Central to the story is what it means to be a carer, and the burden of duty that that presents. The action of the book takes place in the course of a single long June day, punctuated at regular intervals with an almost monastic rhythm. The book is about memory and regret, and about mortality. The fact that Laura’s mother, Professor Jellicoe, is a lifelong naturist provides a visible memento mori through her ageing body. There are a couple of cruel plot twists – a forgotten conversation and a misdirected letter – which completely skew the outcome, echoing Thomas Hardy and owing a debt to the film Brief Encounter.