Following retirement, Marigold Darwin returns to her home village determined to purchase a house. She meets two young boys, Mark and Steve, who hang around The Willows, where old Tom Morton lives. His housekeeper Ivy sometimes babysits Mark, although this may be a mistake. Neither boy is in the least concerned about others, regarding casual deception and theft as just part of everyday life. The same is true of their two friends, who have a seriously disturbed mother. Marigold is gradually drawn into the lives of all and becomes aware of serious shortcomings in the parenting of the boys, and some very real fears in a situation where the misdeeds of one generation are easily passed to the next. Tensions mount and in an intricate plot danger looms, with Marigold's own life being placed on the line.