One single event changes the lives of many characters in this novel forever. The Gaults live in Ireland, although Heloise Gault is a British native. The novel takes place in 1921, which is when the Irish don't think too kindly of the British (though most would argue that to this day they still don't!). Everard Gault is woken one night, after having his guard dogs poisoned, to find 3 strangers on his property attempting to burn his house down. The single shot that he fires sets into motion very tragic events. The shot hits one of the three people, and though it doesn't kill the man, it permanently injures him. After this, the Gaults decide to leave Ireland and take their child, Lucy, with them.
Lucy doesn't much like this plan though. She loves her home and decides to run away so her parents cannot leave. However, she breaks her ankle and gets stuck in the forest where no one can find her. Meanwhile, her parents find some of Lucy's clothing on the strand where she enjoys to swim, and conclude that Lucy has drown. The Gaults are so grief stricken that they leave Ireland and become nomads, moving around Europe. This part of the book was a bit unbelievable. Would parents really assume their child has drown after finding clothes near the sea? Would they not wait for a while for any other traces of their child?
The Gaults pay their housekeepers, who although are secondary characters, are the warmest, most interesting characters in the novel, to keep up their house in case they ever decide to return to Ireland. During this upkeep, Henry finds Lucy, who is close to death from having not eaten for a long time. Since the Gaults left so quickly, and are continuously traveling around Europe, it is impossible to find them to send word.
This novel is about grief, loss, and acceptance. All of the main characters are so stricken with grief that they cannot function. Lucy turns away any chances at happiness because she feels that she should not be forgiven for running away. While it is a very well written novel and it brings you into the story quickly, the ending is a bit of a disappointment. The novel gets slower and slower and then just ends without a climax. Which is kind of sad, because it has potential to be an amazing story.