The novel focuses on the lives of Mudear, her three daughters (Betty, Emily, and Annie), and husband (Ernest) and the havoc she caused in their lives. The author weaves back and forth through time to paint a sad story of children struggling to make sense and adjust to a night-time gardening, TV-watching, self-absorbed, man-hating, non-nurturing, dictator-like mother. While the husband/father, Ernest Lovejoy, can escape into his job at the chalk mines, the everlasting effect she has on her children's life is profound. Mudear believed she was instilling virtues of self-reliance, independence, and self-confidence into her daughters, but soon learns (via her ghost) the motherly lessons has wrecked havoc in their adult relationship with men, has lead one daughter into a rushed marriage just to escape from home, and contributed to another's nervous breakdown. Although all the girls are successful professionally, it stems from their desire to please Mudear and satisfy her very high expectations. The pivotal event is the mother's funeral where it brings the family together and only then do the years of suppressed anger, resentment, and frustration finally surface and the healing begins. The book is easy to read and follow-there are detailed descriptions, and lots of funny, entertaining dialogue to keep the story flowing.