Abandoned by her mother when she was sixteen, in mid life she goes back to try and find those people she remembers who may have known something about her mother. In this painful journey she meets an unknown older half sibling whom her mother had also abandoned, his adoptive parents, a neighbor with a terrible secret and finally her mother living on a derelict canal boat suffering from dementia. She takes her mother back to live with her, but her reluctance to talk about the past and her memory loss contribute only partially to the sketchy details her mother reveals.
The author split up the chapters into multiple periods of time making it difficult at times to untangle the facts, perhaps a device by the author to emphasize how memory is distorted when we try to reconstruct our past. Not a book for a cosy winter read around the fireplace.