After a four month estrangement, thirty-two year old Emma Michaels returns to The Harbor View Assisted Living Home to tell her grandmother that she is selling her inheritance: the family property. Gussie, however, intends to move back. On the dock of Poquatuck Village, Connecticut, looking across the harbor to their ancestral home, the two women debate. Their conversation lays the framework for the book, which flows back over the decades to Gussie’s youth and marriage, and the lives of her three children, Auggie, Livy and Alyssa whose hopes and talents are warped by Gussie’s influence and disappointed expectations. Expectations passed down through the generations. Subtle. Unspoken. Implacable.
As Emma and Gussie remember their family’s life choices and dynamic relationships, within the context of the place that kept them together, Emma prepares to do what no one in her family has dared: let go of the past to make room for the future, though doing so will destroy the only thing her grandmother holds dear, and what will be left without the house?