Haunted by a mysterious and half remembered event from her early childhood, Marianne’s life evolves from her upbringing in Vermont, to her literary studies in England and Russia. She is uninhibited in her zest for life, but when certain choices - including an entanglement with an American diplomat (or spy?) – lead to disastrous consequences, the familiar feelings of guilt return.
Pursuing a successful life back in England, Marianne is unprepared when further tragedy strikes. As she and her husband try to come to terms with their new situation their marriage begins to crumble and is dealt a further blow when events from her time in Russia are resurrected.
Visiting her sick father in Vermont she finally learns the explanation for the dream which has always haunted her and by the time she reaches old age, she is consumed by the need to atone for her mistakes and to make amends to those she loves most.
Partly set some years into the future, Britain has legalised assisted dying, and for Marianne this is perhaps the route she must take to provide the redemption she requires. Disclosing her plans to family and friends, Marianne observes their varied reactions, as those who seem half-hearted in their objections are challenged by the passion of two young women who lead the final charge to save Marianne from herself.