'All the archives in the world weren't enough when he didn't know who, or what, he should be looking for and where he should be looking.' Coventry museum curator David Carter cannot help but wish for more: that his wife would still be the ambitious and sparkling Scottish girl he once found so irresistible; that his job could live up to the promise it once held; that his daughter's arrival could have brought her parents closer. But a few careless words spoken by his mother's friend Julia have left David restless with the knowledge that his whole life has been constructed around an untruth. And so he begins to catalogue his joys and disappointments, the migrations and arrivals, the intersecting lives around him, hoping to find the same breathless excitement in the artifacts of his own life as in those he handles at the museum; hoping that someday there will be someone to show them to. Because once, long ago, a young Irish girl called Mary Friel arrived in war-time London an innocent and left carrying a shame; a shame she still hopes can be diminished by a knock at the door of her Donegal home. There are so many ways to begin, and to live; so many ways to love, and not to love, and to begin again. Against the backdrop of post-WW2 Britain, Jon McGregor's lyrical, intimate novel explores what happens when our lives fail to take the turns we expect, and the ways we learn to let go of the people we might have been.