Today is the day that Sylvia Calvert takes early retirement from her job managing a seaside hotel, but though the elderly residents seem sad to see her go, they are not so sorry to see the back of her husband, Arthur.
Sylvia Calvert wakes to her first morning of retirement, but far from feeling relaxed she and her husband Arthur have to come to terms with living in their son's house and with having nothing in particular to do.
After a few days living with her son and her grandchildren, Sylvia is gradually beginning to master all their electronic gadgets, but she feels it will take her far longer to come to terms with her son's house-rules and the new way of life in Carshall New Town.
Sylvia's son throws a party to introduce his mother and father to his friends and neighbours in Carshall New Town, but Sylvia discovers that for a woman who likes to keep herself to herself, being the mother of the local secondary school headmaster has distinct disadvantages.
Concerned that his mother is missing her job, Sylvia's son arranges for her to be occupied by a friend of his, doing good work for the community.
But far from being grateful, his mother is indignant at his high-handed attitude.
Disenchanted with all she has discovered about Carshall New Town and its inhabitants, Sylvia has retreated behind her son's front door to the television and her books.
But her crusading son and his friends have other plans for her.
Sylvia is distressed to see her widowed son pushing his children further and further away from him.
Powerless to do anything to help him, she continues to lose herself in her long walks in the countryside until a freak thunderstorm clears the air in more ways than one.
Sylvia has saved a little girl's life and her new friend's parents welcome her into the warmth of their home.
Sylvia's son is so wrapped up in his campaign to save a local meadow that he is losing sight of the traumas going on in his own family.
The stresses of recent weeks finally come to a head as Sylvia's son loses his campaign to save the local meadow.
But Sylvia has far more important matters to deal with as her husband's death leaves her free to start a new life.