Emmie Dart was nearly forty years old and servant to old Canon James when Walter asked her to marry him. He was the Canon's son, younger than she was, and a gentleman - even though a rather dilettante drifter who had really done very little with his life.
But Walter had a secret in his past that he asked Emmie to share with him - and she, in turn, told him of her harsh and cruel background that made her feel unworthy to be anyone's wife. In spite of everything the marriage worked. Walter became Station Master at the lazy, sundrenched little country station of Dymock. Emmie set about rearing her three children, all so different.
As Walter and Emmie watched their children grow, marry, have children of their own, so three women began to dominate the family - Dorothy, who was proud, loyal, strong, and frequently extremely angry with the James family into which she had married, Kildie, illegitimate, manipulative, and causing constant strife and drama, and Holly, the third generation, whose loving spirit often held them all together.
It was more than fifty years before Walter James's secret was revealed - a secret that nearly broke the family apart.