When the last of her three children leaves home, fifty-one-year-old Alice Hatton is forced to face the uncomfortable truth that she retains little affection for her golf-playing, lawyer husband, Peter. Lacking confidence, having known no occupation other than motherhood, she succumbs to obvious attempts at consolation – a new hairstyle, a lover – before stumbling upon a far more ingenious and sinister mode of self-fulfilment.