Anna Leath is a young widow, an American living in France. Behind her lies an arid marriage and a life deeply influenced by the rigid code of Old New York. The novel opens as Anna awaits a new and fuller life: a chance encounter with George Darrow, the first love of her youth, has left her awakended, disturbed, filled with new hope. Anna returns to her beautiful country chateau, Givré, to await her future: between two short distances can anything happen to disrupt such promise? But the charming Sophie Viner, governess to Anna's young daughter, holds the key to a secret which comes to reveal that Anna's future - and the very foundation of her life - is fragile where it appears most strong.