A consistant purveyor of sober English historical novels (Mist Over Pendle, Rebel Heiress, etc.) turns to the present and the effect of the past, for the vicarage of Oakley Prior, a Georgian relic, is a factor that colors the lives of those that buy it -- the Evenings, and those who research its story. Jack Evening in his pursuit of success has little time for his wife Joan or daughter Susie, and, after restoring and modernizing the house, turns more determinedly towards business. Joan turns to Charles Torey and their old love lives again until they piece together the events of earlier years and find the same pattern in George and Mary Marlow's marriage in which John Wickham had Charles' role. Learning the tragic end in that case, Joan and Charles fight against its recurrence in the present and, with Jack so thoroughly dissatisfied -- with the house and his marriage, they get their chance. The feel of a house and its associations and their influence on contemporary people affords an even tempered story whose historical substance is balanced by happenings today.