One warm June morning, Maggie Wichelo, a lonely young woman, arrives at the comfortable Oxford house in which she works as a nanny. Everything appears normal. Her glamorous employer, Nula, who also happens to be her cousin, is so tired that she goes back straight back to bed. Samuel, the two year old boy she looks after, is pleased to see Maggie and can’t wait to start crashing his diggers into the skirting board. Dedicated, efficient, and fiercely protective of Samuel, Maggie considers herself an excellent nanny, and Nula and her over-confident husband Greg have had few complaints about her work.
But this is the morning on which Maggie will abduct Samuel, loading him into a hired car, and driving him to a remote boathouse on the island where she spent her teenage years: Anglesey, known to the locals as Mam Cymru, or the Mother of Wales.
For Maggie, everything goes back to the island. This is the beautiful, menacing and mysterious place where she spent the summer, aged fifteen, watching her brother Joe fall in love, her parents’ relationship disintegrate, and her uncle Ralph paint the glorious Menai Strait. The island is where Maggie’s life fell apart, and it is where she will attempt, in her own way, to put it back together again.