A powerful novel about friendship, guilt and sex and our changing notions of loyalty and culpability. Friends since childhood, Norman and Lyn grow up as next-door neighbours at the turn of the twentieth century. When Lyn is sent to manage a central North Island timber mill at the tender age of fourteen, Norman goes to visit him. There he is forced to confront a mysterious adult truth. Later, in their twenties, the two men commit an act so appalling that it ruptures their friendship for many years. In 1972 the elderly Norman meets a young woman in a pub. Burdened by the memory he must at long last assuage, he presses Bronwyn into becoming his unwilling confessor.