Catherine and James are as close as two friends could ever be. They meet in Dublin in the late 1990s, she a college student, he a fledgling artist - both recent arrivals from rural communities, coming of age in a city which is teeming - or so they are told - with new freedoms, new possibilities.
Catherine has never met anyone quite like James. Talented, quick-witted, adventurous and charismatic, he helps Catherine to open her eyes, to take on life with more gusto than she has ever before known how to do; she begins to enjoy her new home, to find her voice as a writer and to meet with the people who will shape her new world.
But while Catherine's horizons are expanding, James's own life is becoming a prison; as changed as the new Ireland may be, it is still not a place in which he feels able to truly be himself. Catherine, grateful to James and worried for him, desperately wants to help - but as time moves on, and as life begins to take the friends in different directions, she discovers that there is a perilously fine line between helping someone and hurting them further. And when crisis hits, Catherine must face difficult truths not just about her closest bond - but about herself.