The consequences of a mother taking the secret of her new-born child's paternity to the grave, are grave indeed.
Joseph Elliot, Lizzibeth Buxton and Henry Ferguson, are unlikely childhood soul-mates through a fortuitous, yet near tragic, twist of fate on Henry's father's Dorset estate in the autumn of 1843.
When Lizzibeth invites one of her two friends, as she surely must, to explore the adult world of physical pleasure, she could not know that this momentous and mutual right of passage, would share the same moment in their history as her brother's crime. As Joseph begins to build his family life far away from the Dorset coast amidst the events and establishment of Scarborough as a successful Victorian seaside resort, Henry settles for a career in the army. They could not have known how both these past events would riddle the embers of their lives, as history begins to taunt them in their new situations.
Joseph and his wife graciously struggle to cope with these intermittent and sometimes malevolent flickers of the emerging truth from not only their own and Henry's past, but also the Buxtons. Secrets spark from subsequent generations fueling this otherwise benign yet glimmering glow of deceit from the Elliot women.
Absolution for them all, arrives in an engulfing blaze of revelation to Lizzibeth's daughter Betsy Agatha, almost seventy years after her birth. Only then, like the phoenix in the Dorset town where her life began, can she openly bequeath a bright new dawn to her family, in her own enlightened dusk.