Liz Headleand, Esther Breuer, and Alix Bowen have been friends since Cambridge. Twenty-five years later, life has led them all down very different paths. Liz is a successful and well-known psychiatrist with a full social life. Esther, an eccentric bohemian, is a renowned professor of Italian art. Alix, a Socialist, teaches English in a London prison. Over the course of five years, their lives are marked by affairs, divorce, remarriage, sexual exploration, and the great political and social turmoil of London in the 1980s. In this story, "rich, various, many tentacled, chockful of life" (Margaret Atwood, Ms.), Margaret Drabble shows us a rapidly changing world from these three rich and vastly different vantage points, and the friendship that holds them all together.