A year after the death of her husband, Emily Maxwell gathers her family at Lake Chautauqua for what will be a last holiday at their summer cottage. Joining her is her sister-in-law Arlene, silently mourning both the loss of the lake house and a bygone love affair. Emily's firebrand daughter Meg, a recovering alcoholic recently separated from her husband, brings her children from Detroit. Emily's son Ken, who has quit his job and mortgaged his future to pursue his art, comes accompanied by his children and his wife, who is secretly heartened to be visiting the house for the last time.
Memories of past summers resurface, old rivalries flare up and love is rekindled and born anew, resulting in a timeless novel that 'succeeds beautifully [and] showcases some of the finest character studies a contemporary reader could ask for' (Boston Globe).