This is the tale of Dilly an Irish woman and her relationships, primarily that of the one between her and her daughter.
Dilly is dying and in the hospital and is recalling her life - her move to America where she endures a horrific journey to arrive basically alone without a plan. A distant cousin sets her up as a domestic servant until that falls apart. She ends up back in Ireland where she marries and has children. Suddenly she is old and recalling her daughters story and wishing the daughter would come to visit. These transitions are not done very well and it isn't clear if it is bad story telling or if Dilly is only giving us information as it comes to her.
At the end of the novel, the story shifts from a narrative to letters and they reveal different nuances of the story. Mostly this story is about mothers and daughters and communication. Even when Dilly gets her wish it is unsatisfying.
This is a nice story that doesn't quite work.