The complexities of family relationships are examined in this novel by Monica McInerney. The five Faraday girls live with their father, Leo, in Hobart. Tessa, their mother, died when the girls were young but her memory is kept alive in stories told by Leo plus family traditions continued in her memory. Family dynamics change when the youngest sister, Clementine, has a daughter, Maggie, who is consequently brought up by the five sisters and their father. When Maggie is five her Aunt Sadie takes her on holiday to Melbourne and then decides to disappear from the family taking Maggie with her. Discovered by Leo and Clementine in New South Wales, Maggie is returned safely to her home but her aunt severs all family connections. Maggie is told that her aunt has chosen to join a hippie colony.
Years later, in New York, Maggie is visited by her grandfather who wants her to change her decision about not attending a family gathering in Ireland. He asks Maggie to read the diaries kept by her grandmother to try and determine the initial reason that caused Sadie to leave the family as Sadie was the only family member to have previously read the diaries. Maggie agrees and on that holiday visit discovers many of the family secrets that had long been hidden and the fragility of family bonds. She also discovers herself and how she wants to live her life as an individual, not as one segment of a family.