Max Weston, twenty-one, leaves for his first army posting in central Africa. What happens to him changes the lives of his family forever. At home, his parents struggle to cope. The overwhelming love Caroline has always felt for her only child is now matched by the intensity of Max's absence. The silence is broken by the arrival of Caroline's mother-in-law, Elsa, who at the age of ninety-eight can no longer look after herself. After years of living in fear of putting a foot wrong in front of this elegant, cuttingly courteous lady, finally, Caroline has the upper hand.