Margaret Drabble returns with a virtuoso novel set in present-day England. Two distinguished guests are travelling separately toward a ceremony where they will meet for the first time in three decades. Both are apprehensive, as they review the successes and failures of their public life, and their secret history. Humphrey and Ailsa met as children, by the grey northern sea to which they are returning. Humphrey was already a serious child, drawn toward the underwater world of marine biology, but there were as yet few signs of Ailsa's dazzling transformation into a flamboyant feminist celebrity. The novel traces the evolution of their careers and their passionately entangled relationship, and brings them together again to see what they will make of their past, and in what spirit they will be able to face the future. In this taut and elegiac novel, Margaret Drabble examines the ways in which place, chance, and time merge to make us what we are.