In mid-1970s rural Wicklow, John Hughes, a once-feted journalist/author with writer's block, reflects on recent events. When English author William Cromer and his German lover Ingrid move to the Old Rectory nearby, their lives are transformed and an alcohol-fuelled affair begins. Hughes puts at risk everything he has ever loved — his wife Laura, teenage daughter Rachael and the bucolic ease of their quiet corner of Ireland. Nationalist resentment of this tax-free haven enjoyed by foreigners is sparked by events in Northern Ireland, and John finds himself in the middle of extortion, blackmail, marital betrayal and a suicide. As old and new friendships unravel, even lunchtime visits to the local pub become points of attrition. Losing his friends and mistress, John is forced to take responsibility for his actions in order to save his family and his integrity, and to find release as a writer.