Jim Norris is stony broke, working every hour God sends digging and delving in his small market garden, and helping out a neighbouring farmer for very little return. So he knows he's the luckiest man in the world when Mary, the niece of well-off local gentry, marries him despite being cut off by her wealthy aunts. Mary slogs beside him in all weathers to make a living and to bring up their little girl, Patsy, in a ramshackle old cottage with an outside lav, and a rickety ladder up to a draughty attic bedroom. At times Jim's guilt is overwhelming as he watches her working her frozen fingers to the bone, almost dropping with weariness - not exactly what she's been used to in her genteel upbringing, but she never complains; she loves Jim madly and they are blissfully happy together. Until her accident - and the nightmare that follows them all through the next 30 years. Mary's gradual descent into madness overshadows even Jim's second marriage and children, but the shocking climax is something no-one could have foreseen. Jenny Piper is a wonderful author who makes no bones about her handling of delicate subjects . Her skill as a story-teller is a delight to the heart and soul, and is right up there with the best of them. She lives with her husband in rural Hampshire, and has been variously an actress, an artist, a teacher and a psychologist, but has had a lifelong love of books and nowadays spends much of her time writing.