When Roscoe, a 65-year-old Cervantes scholar, runs off with a young woman named Sally, he decides to stay a while in her family home. Soon he discovers that Sally's house--once inhabited by James Dean; perched precariously over the San Fernando valley--is filled with secrets, sadness, and haunted women who cannot leave themselves or anyone else in peace. From Lucy, Sally's suspicious sister, to Mable, their Shakespeare-quoting invalid mother, to Elizabeth, Mable's lovely and mysteriously mute nurse, the forces of the house conspire to make Roscoe question his assumptions about everything. As scars and histories are revealed, Shepard shows, as only he can, what happens when the secrets simmering within a family boil over. Heartless masterfully explores the irrevocability of our pasts--and the possibility of life begun anew.