Geoffrey Tremont is untroubled by his neat, contented bachelor life in bustling New York City, filled with sophisticated friends, an undemanding lover devoted to her own career, and his wise brother, a psychiatrist who is the only one who sees and understands him completely—just the way Geoffrey wants it. On an ordinary day, Geoffrey arrives home to find a letter awaiting him with a postmark from an unfamiliar town: Shady Grove, New York. An old friend has named him the executor of her estate. Twenty years ago, in college, Geoffrey and Laura Wells had been each other’s confidant; as their lives diverged, they went their separate ways. Now, she’s reached out of the past to ask him a final favor. Laura’s death has also brought her brother, Simon, to Geoffrey’s doorstep. With his sister gone, Simon has no one but her old friend Geoffrey with whom to settle past grievances.
With Simon in tow, Geoffrey travels up to Laura’s hometown—the place she chose to live her final years—where he meets Marian Ballantine. A widow living in the shadow of an idyllic marriage, and now grieving the loss of her best friend, Marian knows a lot about Geoffrey. Laura often spoke of him, she tells him, and though he’s flattered, he’s also thrown off balance. From the moment he first sees her, Geoffrey instinctively knows this attractive, plainspoken woman has the power to upend his cool, compartmentalized life. Faced with the decision to embrace the unknown or retreat to the safety of the familiar, they will both have to discover the courage it takes to tumble into the abyss of love.