The encircling downs lend an appealing charm to the village of Mellstone in rural Dorset but all is not as it seems. A violent gale thirty years earlier caused a rotten branch to fall from the ancient Tidings Tree and injure nine-year old Jenny who was playing truant from school. When the decision had been taken to fell the tree the resulting anger against Jenny and her mother forced them to move elsewhere. Now, newly qualified in the combined arts of ceramics and floristry, Jenny decides to return to Mellstone to prove something to herself in spite of her student daughter, Saskia’s, misgivings. The original tree and its replacement has always given Mellstone a sense of identity which now unites the village in deep suspicion of the newcomers. As well as this, unknown to each other, Jenny and Saskia fall in love with the same man . . .