William de Bulmer, no longer a monk, but still a most capable administrator, returns to St Alcuins to help the new cellarer manage the challenges of a big society wedding. But this event, fraught with difficult relationships, coincides with their regular Bishop's Visitation. William tries to conceal his presence from Bishop Eric, who wants to bring him to justice for the felony of breaking his monastic vows and the grave sin of attempting suicide. Astute and zealous, the bishop sets out to hunt William down. Meanwhile the arrival of Brother Conradus's mother brings problems of a completely different nature As the story unfolds, a beautiful thread of loving-kindness weaves quietly through the contrasting colours of human frailty, religious zeal, and social pretension.