Sharing what she believes will be a last tryst with a longtime secret lover on the eve of his marriage, a woman reflects on the years they have spent together and her journey of self-discovery against a backdrop of 20th-century history. "Jane Fairchild, orphaned at birth, has worked as a maid at an English country estate since she was sixteen. And for almost all of those years, she has been the secret lover of Paul Sheringham, the scion of the estate next door. On an unseasonably warm March afternoon, when all the servants have been let off work for the day in order to pay their annual visits to their families, Jane and Paul will make love for the last time in Paul's own bedroom--though not, as Jane believes, because Paul is about to be married. The events of the day will alter Jane's life forever. As the narrative moves back and forth from 1924 to the end of the century, what we know and understand about Jane, about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees and remembers, deepens with every beautifully wrought moment. Her story is one of profound self-discovery and, through her, Graham Swift has created an emotionally soaring and deeply affecting work of fiction."--From publisher.