Tilly and Teddy have been best friends all their lives – both from musical families, born four months apart. Once there had been their friend Grace to add to the mix but she was killed when a car ran into her bicycle and the shock and grief of the loss ripped through their lives. So three years on, when Teddy confesses a ‘fierce love’ for Katherine Cooper-Bunting, one of his mother’s piano pupils, Tilly is determined to do all she can to help him to get to know Katherine better. However, her very best intentions are challenged when she realises that she, too, is strongly attracted to Katherine.
The anxiety generated by this conflict of interests is exacerbated by the fact that her grandfather, who is suffering from the early signs of dementia, is coming to live with them. She cannot bear the thought of watching him deteriorate and die – Grace’s death was loss enough. Her parents are absorbed in their careers and her sister is hundreds of miles away and so Tilly becomes more and more involved in his care.
Brueggemann introduces a theatrical production into the narrative, which enables threads to be drawn together, new characters to be introduced and, as a result of his former career, her grandfather finds a new lease of life as the pianist for the production. Characters are beautifully written, with all their eccentricities, rivalries and eventual camaraderie vividly evoked and the rich vein of humour throughout is the perfect antidote to the sorrows and sublimity of love.