A psychologist currently working with troubled children, Ginnie Holmes lives in London near the Thames River with her husband, Greg, and sixteen-year-old daughter Amber. Eighteen-year-old Molly has just left for college.
Ginny has grown complacent, letting her husband drift away in his own pursuits; he is currently writing a book and plans to sleep in Molly’s newly-vacated room until he has finished his work. Amber is increasingly independent, and Ginnie has fallen into the habit of admiring her daughters’ spirited beauty, allowing them to do as they please without adult interference.
Everything changes for Ginnie when she meets casually with a detective, Will Hampton, also married, who may be able to help her with a difficult case. Their attraction immediate and mutual, Ginnie embarks upon a clandestine affair that fulfills her wildest fantasies. She believes she can keep her affair separate from her family, content to live in the moment.
On one of their riverside assignations, the couple discovers a deserted shack on the Thames with enough privacy to shield them from prying eyes. The shabby river house becomes a haven for their weekly rendezvous until there is a savage murder nearby, and the careful security Ginnie has relished is replaced by fear and danger.
Her middle age defined by the infinite pressures of family, the illnesses and deaths that take the bright shine from the future, Ginnie has grasped a lifeline to that carefree time of romance and unfettered passion reserved for the young, thinking it possible to rediscover such freedom, if only for a while. Of course, she is mistaken, the consequences of her actions and family responsibilities standing sentinel.
A woman of a certain age, for the most part Ginnie has valued her life, her job and family, vaguely aware of the absence of passion in her marriage. Compartmentalizing the affair, Ginnie deceives herself, but the murder changes this blissful isolation and she is forced to confront the ugly reality of infidelity: that others are involved and can be wounded. The river house is indeed awash in silvery light and secrecy, but the danger, once it strikes, is pervasive.
Ginnie’s permissive behavior will call her to account: caught in a passive marriage, she is vulnerable to a rush of passion with a new man; increasingly apathetic in disciplining her daughter, Amber spins out of control, avoiding responsibilities. Perhaps Ginnie confuses herself with Amber, ignoring her parental role. But in this psychological tale of one woman’s descent into unfamiliar territory, Ginnie is blindsided, unbridled passion and violence rushing in, altering forever her perception of the world.