The start of this book is failed pregnancy.
Fliss is married to Ben and they have a child, six-year-old Hollie. Yet, Fliss wants a second child, and for two years they have been trying with no results. At first Fliss thought that the reason why she didn’t get pregnant was because she and Ben spend little time together. Ben spends the week in London in their flat because he works there, and then he goes to Kent, where Fliss and Hollie are, for the weekend. When Fliss had Holley, she and Ben decided they wanted to raise their daughter out of London. Now things are not so blissful as Fliss hardly gets to see her husband. Now that they want to have another child, it is even more difficult. Now Fliss thinks that they should be tested in case there is something wrong that prevents them from having another child, but Ben is reluctant to do so.
The theme changes somewhat when Fliss decides to take part in a television programme about infertility in the second child. It is that way that she meets Leon, the producer. They strike up a friendship, but it is obvious from the first that Fliss has a crush on Leon, and Leon is not indifferent either. Their relationship deepens when Fliss starts working for him, refurbishing his flat after it suffered an arson attack (Fliss being a interior decorator). The cracks appear in Fliss’s marriage as she feels lonely and at some point she even admits to feeling Ben is a weekend guest. She also wonders if Ben might be having an affair and that is why he is working late and cuts some weekends short to return to London.
About Leon we learn that he has had problems with his younger brother, Jeff.Jeff was a black sheep, getting into trouble, and things came to a head, when Jeff slept with Leon’s girlfriend and got her pregnant. Now at present Leon helps his ex-girlfriend to look after his niece as his brother is absent most of the time. It is when Leon and Fliss are on the beach as they have taken the children (his niece and her daughter) that Jeff appears and tries to kidnap his daughter. Fliss reacts, taking the girl to safety while Leon calls the police. We learn later that it was Jeff who set fire to his flat, and he has been diagnosed schizophrenia and is going to be sectioned.
Then Fliss gets the shock of her life. Ben suggest they spend a weekend together in London. Then he reveals something that he has hidden from her for years. He tells her that he has a son, Jack, who he had before he and Fliss got together. Apparently, he only learnt about Jack’s existence a few years ago before, but he has kept this a secret because he was afraid that it would be the end of his marriage. Naturally, Fliss reacts angrily. I can understand her because this matter has evidently touched other matters. Ben claims that he has been looking after Jack for two days to let his mother have some relieve, which enrages Fliss, logically, because Fliss has had little help from Ben all these years. She is also furious because she realizes the reason why he had so little interest in another child as he had already one. I can understand Fliss’s reaction completely. I wonder if this will be the end of their marriage, or maybe she will forgive him. Will this make her turn to Leon and let her latent feelings free rein?