Lucy lives in Cornwall in a small cottage next to her grandparent's house. She's getting ready to leave home for her first job as a teacher of English in Milan. Her boyfriend Tristan is in the army and is about to be shipped to Kosovo. This turning point in her life is complicating by her grandmother's increasing Alzheimer's Disease along with her grandfather showing signs of confusion and memory lapses. At the start of the story, her family are cared for primarily by Lucy's uncle Barnaby, the local vicar.
Lucy has always felt closer to her grandparents and uncle then she has to her mother, a high achieving barrister in London, now newly married to a German banker. While storing her things in the attic in preparation for her move, she finds a trunk hidden in the eaves. Inside are some documents from the WW2 era, letters and journals written in Polish by her grandmother, and documents in German including a birth certificate that has to be for Lucy's mother Anna. She is confused because the last name and birthdate don't jive with her mother's actual history.
Lucy is curious, worried, and confused. It is apparent there is more to the story of how her grandmother a Polish Jew, escaped to London and met her grandfather. The family is beset by tensions. Her grandparents have always wanted to leave the painful memories of the war behind. Lucy finally confides in Barnaby. They must struggle with how far to pursue this information before the death of Lucy's grandparents. Already, her grandmother cannot explain much. They must wrestle with the issue of whether it is better to explore painful family history, or look towards the future. The characters of this story find a way through these issues that bring them closer together.
This report prepared by Susan Coffey