Tanner returns to the English coal-mining village of Hillsbridge (setting of The Hours of Light, 1981) to chronicle the further matings of the ambitious Hall family. The year is 1926. Amy Hall has married handsome Dew Roberts, a Welsh entrepreneur who's left the mines to open a trucking company; Harry, Amy's brooding baby brother, has left school to take a wearing job hauling coal; black-sheep brother Ted shows no sign of settling down; Dad Hall is near death, done in by the mines, but clan mother Charlotte is sturdy, close-minded, eagerly maneuvering on her kids' behalf. A prolonged miners' strike strains the town's already meager resources, although it gives Harry the playtime to court pretty Margaret, daughter of a local Labour party leader. When Llew gets crushed under a truck, Amy steps in--despite widespread disapproval--to take over the business. Then a hollow-faced and unruly boy, issue of one of Llew's premarital romances, arrives in town and is taken into Amy's already hard-pressed household. One of Amy's clients, the dashing, hard-to-figure Ralph Porter, invites her for dinner and a thrilling kiss. But Amy's still in mourning and she discourages him. Harry sets his sights on a management job and neglects his courtship of Margaret. And ne'er-do-well Ted has a brash with death and decides to marry faithful Rosa. Finally, after business woes and the requisite ups and downs of single motherhood, Amy realizes--at last--that she loves Ralph of the thrilling kiss. But does he still care? A nick-of-time rescue in an abandoned mine removes all doubts, and it's home to Amy's kitchen for the long awaited proposal. A cheering and entirely predictable period saga: a soothing look at life's silky surface.