Set on one day in 1979, The Fern Hedge explores the interconnected lives of three women — Alice, her daughter Kate, and grand-daughter Joanne. It is Alice's 80th birthday and she detests birthdays.
As the women prepare for the birthday party their cumulative history is remembered and tensions between them mount. Events come to a head when Jo brings another resident to her grandmother's room to join the "party", presenting them with an image of Alice's possible future with Alzheimer's.
Making use of both conventional narrative and internal stream of consciousness as the distinctive voices respond to events and challenges, The Fern Hedge is Jean Harrison's second novel and confirms her as a talented and convincing author with extraordinary powers of observation on the human condition.