The book tells of the author's childhood at Reachfar, a croft in Ross-shire, the story of a vanished world. Janet, the narrator, was brought up on this highland farm by her stern old grandmother; her delicate, charming and beloved mother; George, her uncle; and Tom, the hired hand who was nevertheless one of the family. Into this peaceful backwater come the Miss Boyds - silly, frivolous, giggling old maids, bred by a highland father, but essentially 'townies', who have come to settle into the neighbourhood. At first they are a laughing stock. It is only when tragedy overtakes them that the compassion and great-hearted kindness of the Reachfar family, and their neighbours, is aroused.