Emily is a successful Performance Poet and for her forthcoming American tour her publisher suggests a highly unlikely companion. They begin in Boston and travel across the country. Meanwhile back home, the publisher is involved in smuggling rare books out of Italy, something accidentally uncovered by Emily and her companion in Los Angeles. The Boss is Anne-Marie who seems to have the measure of everyone, but longs more than anything else for her own farm although first she has to help the police solve a problem in the world of art

Something terrible happens in Florence and something wonderful in Sheffield, as the characters each have to face their unknowable and utterly unexpected futures .

Eamonn is an evangelical Baptist minister in South London when something happens to call into question his belief in God and the meaning of his life. After many years of marriage, his wife also needs a radical change of life if she is to survive.

Eamonn signs up for a course in poetry and has relationships which change his life totally and cause him to give up Christianity completely.

His wife seeks a divorce and a return to her roots in Barnsley where she discovers a new way of living and loving. Eamonn ends up being much loved by a new partner, a Muslim.

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Billy's parents have money but little more to offer him and he is sent to a private school he detests. At the first opportunity he leaves school and home and gets a ghastly job in a kennels skinning animals. Into his life comes Anita but when unexpected tragedy strikes he is able to begin new work living with  her parents.

Even more unexpectedly he acquires considerable wealth and a cup of tea in a canteen changes his life completely, a life spent thereafter with Sonja from Poland. He is however, caught up in. two instances of corruption, one at Oxford University and another in local government. Considering his beginning Billy achieves a great deal, and then he is admitted into hospital with a life-threatening illness.