A novel set in the Downs of southern England where a picturesque village, far from modernity, has declined into obscurity. The lives of several residents, some poor, some affluent, but all with aspirations, are portrayed. They have love and the dilemmas it poses, ambitions thwarted by poverty, and the psychological disturbance of self-repression. But they also have the determination to stumble onward in hope of fulfilling their dreams.
The main characters are a young couple longing for marriage, one afflicted by a damaged childhood, her fiancé of small resources unable to rent or buy; an affluent young couple finding that love has its travails and does not run smooth; a middle aged couple finding fulfilment in village activities centred on the church; another who resolve their own failings by solving the problems of others. But also a widower’s obsession to seek revenge for the death of his wife and child.
Numerous other characters include the village historian who plays a key role in safeguarding the village amenities, a young couple who benefit from his investigations, and the older residents who bring their wisdom to the resolution of turmoil and tribulation thereby also contributing to village renewal.
The fundamental decency and good sense of the residents ensures the continuance of peace and harmony as if a veil of comfort and security had descended over the village.