The main character of this story is Doris, an intelligent young woman, determined to follow a career as a nurse in a large hospital in the town where she was brought up in south Wales.
With a philosophical and curious nature, her conversations usually turn into discussions on subjects of importance to the human race. She believes that such a thing exists as "The Great Experience" and that she will be among the blessed few who will fall in love with the one that fate has intended for her, an him for her.When she meets Arthur, he became the love of her life, and her dream of living a full, equal interesting life with hi, the two as one, with a houseful o children, she believes, is about to be realised.
However, the the great intricacy of the story is that Arthur, who works as a young lecturer, is already engaged to Sian, a conventional, dependent character whose only purpose in life to m make sure he husband to be is comfortable, and successful. As one who is ten years older that Arthur, Sian had sacrificed everything in order to pay for Arthur's further education and will not survive unless Arthur marries her...
We follow the passion and suffering, happiness and bitterness of the lives of Doris, Arthur and Sian as important decisions have to be made, for better or for worse, which cause turmoil in the relationships between the characters of this novel.
The novel delves into the nature of love, and asks whether love outside marriage can challenge conventional morality and traditional religion.