In the summer of 1960, 13-year-old Catrin Grieve is despatched by her feckless mother to stay with her great aunt Ella at Shrimp's Hotel in the sleepy village of Kilvennyon the Welsh coast. On arrival, Catrin is dismayed to find that her reclusive, eccentric aunt is not expecting her and, long closed to visitors, the hotel is nothing like the grand place her mother remembers. Behind the boarded up windows, Ella Grieve still lays the cobwebbed tables for dinner and puts warming pans in the beds of invisible guests. Although a finicky eater, Catrin finds herself fascinated by a 200-year-old, beautifully-illustrated Italian recipe book, Le Ricette per i Cherubini (Recipes for Cherubs), she discovers on the premises. As she discovers more about the history of the book and grows closer to her frail, lonely aunt, Catrin realises that people from the past can sometimes interlace with the present and point a way forward into the future.