In the gentle precinct of Aldminster Cathedral, crisis loomed. The urbane and worldly Dean (Purdey guns and the regular arrival of a delivery van from Berry Brothers) wanted nothing so much as to restore and beautify his beloved Cathedral--even if it meant sacrificing the Choir School to pay for it. Alexander Troy, Headmaster of the school, a conscientious man, somewhat out of his depth with his elusive and poetical wife (once seen walking barefoot in the dew across the Cathedral Close) was determined that nothing and no-one-certainly not the overbearing Dean-should destroy the Choir.
As the rift widened into Machiavellian dimensions, many others found themselves caught in the schism--Leo Beckford, brilliant but wayward organist, repelling the adoration of the Dean's dreadful daughter--the gentle, left-wing Bishop, trying to soothe the angry protagonists--Sally Ashworth, mother of the leading chorister, fighting loneliness and an erring and absent husband. Each frail and human dilemma took its part in the greater turmoil of Chapter and Close and the final battle for the survival of the Choir.