Isabel Dalhousie is once again caught between 'gossip' and significant rumour. It is none of her business that Patricia, the mother of her son Charlie's friend Basil, is estranged from Basil's father, or that the woman's attitude to childcare is somewhat brazen. Isabel, however, has much else on her mind, including the next issue of the Review of Applied Ethics. Thankfully, the arrival of Antonia, the exuberant Italian au pair, surely means Isabel can breathe a little. But her role as confidante soon has Isabel doubting all recent decisions, and her instinct to help others may have put her in real danger. In her desire to run a smooth household and working life, has Isabel simply created more chaos? Perhaps the quiet side of passion is, after all, the best side on which to be.