It is 2018, and Rawlings is ready to make a fresh start – but his life rarely goes to plan.
Lying in hospital after hopefully his final leg operation, Rawlings reflects that he is now without any responsibilities. His brief affair is over, and his grandson Felix is in Australia. As soon as Rawlings is discharged, he will move into his new London home, the garden flat of his friend Max’s Putney house, and make plans for his future.
Although still suffering from acute PTSD, the year begins well. Rawlings meets Max’s sisters and, to his surprise, enjoys their company. He also makes a rewarding trip to see his long-neglected sister Stella in Scotland. But on his return, things start to go awry.
From their Skype calls, it is obvious Felix is unsettled and unhappy, and Rawlings resolves to get the boy home and save him further distress. At the same time, he finds himself under pressure to write another book about the Sarajevo Siege. This means making a painful visit to the city, which reawakens traumatic memories and the ghost of his lost love Mia. What follows Sarajevo is a visit to Mia’s family in Vermont, which produces disturbing and shocking surprises.
Will Rawlings manage to bring Felix home? Will he write the book? Will he be able to withstand the advances of two unstable and neurotic women? Will Isobel, the only person he relies on, finally lose patience with him?
Rawlings remains the same taciturn, difficult but charming character, but as the year progresses, he changes, becoming far more reflective and soul-searching. He knows something is missing from his life…