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Daughter of a Scottish father and a French mother, George McEwan (her christian name is a tribute to George Sand) takes a holiday every year in a small Scottish fishing village. There, in 1958, at the age of seventeen, she falls in love with a young sailor, Gavin McCall, whose beauty and masculine self-assurance fascinates her. A few months later, on the occasion of Gavin's sister's wedding, George spends a first, unforgettable night with him. Even though she knows he is engaged to Josie, a young village girl, she promises to see him again the following summer. A year goes by, during which time George continues her studies in Paris and starts a loveless relantionship with her piano teacher. The unexpected arrival of Gavin tears her away from this boring existence and they experience two days of intense passion. But Gavin makes the mistake of proposing marriage to the young girl, who feels obliged to turn him down : their worlds are too different and she could never be satisfied with being the wife of a simple fisherman. Gavin, mortified, leaves George and returns to his village...