Fiona Maye is a British High Court judge in the Family Division, and has spent the past 30 years building her career and reputation. Here she is faced with deciding the case of a child with leukemia who is refusing a blood transfusion based on religious beliefs. Without the treatment, he will die, and Fiona must decide whether to overrule the family's wishes regarding the withholding of treatment. The Children's Act of 1989 directs her to rule in favor of the welfare of the child. Fiona takes her job very seriously and in one of the best scenes in the book, she visits the teenage boy in the hospital, where they have an interesting and emotional meeting. At the same time she is studying this case, she is dealing with a crisis in her marriage, and the realization of the sacrifices she has made in her personal life for her profession.
“Welfare, happiness, well-being must embrace the philosophical concept of the good life. She listed some relevant ingredients, goals toward which a child might grow. Economic and moral freedom, virtue, compassion and altruism, satisfying work through engagement with demanding tasks, a flourishing network of personal relationships, earning the esteem of others, pursuing larger meanings to one’s existence, and having at the center of one’s life one or a small number of significant relations defined above all by love.“Yes, by this last essential she herself was failing.”