According to their friends, Tom and Pippa Drummond have the perfect existence - a great lifestyle, a lively marriage, and a great kid in Tally. In their late thirties, living in a converted barn on the edge of the Sussex Downs, Tom is a partner in "The Pelican", a restaurant in Axbury Minster, and Pippa, after a short career as a cook, grows herbs for sale locally and brings up sixteen-year-old Tally - a lively blonde with her head screwed firmly on to her shoulders. A rare summer holiday is planned - an idyllic retreat in the Italian hills. Tom takes time off from the restaurant, Pippa leaves her herbs in the charge of a dotty neighbour, and Tally takes a break from the two men in her life - fast-living Alex and the plodding, persevering "Blip". Tuscany is everything they hoped it would be - cicadas in the trees, the scent of sage and citrus and suppers under the stars. But their joy is short-lived. Overnight their lives, their circumstances, their very identities are altered, and life will never be the same again. From being the envy of their friends, the Drummonds are plunged into a world that nobody would wish upon them.
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