The story begins with Eliza holding a responsible job as a ceramic conservator at the V&A museum. She is happy in her job, trying to get the pieces of her life together after her divorce. Eliza was brought up in Sweden and out of the blue receives a phone call from Uncle Ian and this is where the flashbacks begin and the actual story starts.
We go back twenty five years to three girls Portia, Eliza and Rose and Sandra/Cassandra. In a posh boarding school the girls are put together to "get on" and with orders not to make Sandra feel unwanted. In typical teen fashion which can be quite cruel three of them do realize that whatever happens Sandra is an outsider who does not understand the nuances of society as much as they do or rather think they do and their cruelty is knowingly or unknowingly the beginning of the tragedy where Rose loses her life.
Sandra comes in as the scholarship girl and trying desperately to get into the inner circle. It is Sandra who gives us perfect descriptions of each girl - Eliza the artistic one, Rose the film star and Portia the author - the two first person narrations of the story can be confusing till you separate them in your mind into two distinct compartments. We have Sandra as the first with very clear cut views on each of the girls she is associating with and her wanting to be part of that circle does not diminish her views on each persons strengths and weaknesses. Once Rose and Sandra fall for the same boy, the chips are down and its a full scale battle.
We then have Eliza in the present time, older, a bit battered and wondering why Rose's father wants to give her such a legacy despite the fact that she was responsible for his daughter's death.
The burden of grief and more than that guilt is brought out delicately in this story. The fact that some of us can handle both of it better than others is also shown whereas with some the guilt specially overshadows their entire life and can sour it forever.
Though there are degrees of sadness and darkness in the novel, the lightness of Eliza's tongue in the cheek humour makes it very refreshing to read.