Though bright enough, Tracy does badly at school, leaving early to take up an unskilled job. Very quickly she marries Geoff who adores her and she then devotes herself to rearing their children. Though content in her maternal role there is an underlying dissatisfaction with her partner and, as the children grow into adults, she and Geoff grow apart which culminates in his mysterious disappearance: an event that leads to shocking discoveries about his secret life.
Though surrounded by family, an intense sense of loneliness gradually overwhelms Tracy stimulating her eldest daughter to help her find a new partner. Tracy then falls in love for the first time in her life as she and Jim discover a common interest in gardening and a shared obsession with the TV programme A Place in the Sun.
Together they travel to Spain in search of their very own place in the sun. The remainder of the story covers their fraught attempts to realise their dream and is a roller coaster ride of emotions, frustrations, obstacles, successes, failures and economic and cultural challenges. Through all of that Jim is gradually revealed to be very different from the man she fell in love with and Tracy is torn between her new life and the lives of her children in England.