LOSING an unborn child and having her boyfriend propose marriage within the same few days is more emotional upheaval than Emily Carpenter can handle.
Emily’s fresh wave of mourning reopens painful memories of a previous pregnancy and a tiny boy entrusted to the care of nuns 20 years earlier. Back then, as a 16-year-old schoolgirl she had no choice in the matter, the decision made without consultation by her conservative parents.
Now grieving all over again, Emily – an outwardly successful author – flees her home in Brighton, England, and in a single day drives until she runs out of road. There, on the western edge of Britain, in the island of Anglesea, Wales, she settles into a rented cottage in a village where her days are filled with taking long walks with her dog Ralph and teaching reading. It’s an opportunity for a new beginning, albeit temporarily, free from constant reminders of the ways in which her life has stalled.
After a series of stilted chats with a stranger on a clifftop, however, she realises the time has come to stop running and instead address her regrets and frustrations in person.
As Emily begins to pursue the truth about her surrendered son her research uncovers a trail of circumstances she could never have imagined. Not only is he no longer in the Brighton area but it seems children from the facility in which he had been living were among those sent to the far side of the world as part of a decades-long program to relocate unwanted British youngsters to Commonwealth countries including Australia. No records survive, leaving Emily with few options for tracing his whereabouts.
Whether she will now be able, so many years later, to make her peace with those events (and with her own mother’s role in them) is uncertain.