Chloe knows about unwritten rules; she grew up in a house full of them. But she doesn’t know that breaking one will be life changing. .
It’s London, Soho, and CHLOE is having another successful month in advertising sales. Just out of a meeting she receives a call from her sister in law, JENNY who’s taken her mother, LINDA, into hospital with a chest infection. Chloe is annoyed that Jenny was the one who was called and that her father has neglected her mother.
Seizing the chance to finally confront the alcoholic, bully of the family she goes to her parent’s home. She isn’t expecting to discover him wearing a dress and lipstick. They’re both shocked. He collapses, but she’s so horrified by the idea that others may discover his secret she wastes time hiding the evidence. He dies and a policeman arrives to secure the body. He hands her a lipstick he finds on the floor and she pretends it’s hers. He insists on staying in contact and she fears he suspects something.
Chloe now has to spend time with a family she’s been avoiding, helping organise the cremation. She’s jealous and annoyed by the impenetrable bond between her mother and sister in law, whilst her emotionally damaged brother, DOM, is cold and absent. She also has questions about her father’s little thing but doesn’t know who to talk to without divulging what happened that night.
When Dom unexpectedly comes to for help in dealing with his secret affair they begin to talk, for the first time, about things that happened when they were children. He dispels long-held fears she’s had that something she did was to blame for her fractured family.
When the autopsy results cite a heart attack as the cause of death, Chloe feels vindicated but can’t face spending a week with her family, and uses her compassionate leave to book a last minute ski-trip to escape. Before she goes she meets the policeman who seems attracted to her but doesn’t make a move.
She ends up in Andorra with a motley bunch of travellers. Amongst them are the over-friendly Australian Buddhist, TWIGGY, and the gorgeous South African, RENIER, to whom Chloe has an instant attraction.
Unprepared for fresh relationships Chloe tries to hide from both but Twiggy manages to earn her friendship whilst Renier pursues her relentlessly. When Chloe finally learns to ski and is goaded by Twiggy, she has a one-night stand with Renier. But instead of making her feel better, it triggers a breakdown. Twiggy rescues her and joins her in London where she makes love to Chloe, something Chloe did not see coming. Chloe is embarrassed, insisting she’s not a lesbian but Twiggy challenges her need to define it and live inside a box of rules. When Twiggy leaves for Alaska, Chloe falls apart in the belief she’s losing herself. Twiggy insists it’s the opposite; gives her the book Siddartha, and says she’s just beginning to find herself.
Empowered, Chloe asks her UNCLE HENRY some difficult questions and discovers her father was the first victim in the family chain, having a brutal, unloving father who tried to beat the ‘lavender’ out of him. The policeman re-connects with her and their relationship teeters on romance but when he lets on that he realised the lipstick was her father’s she doesn’t know what to think.
The family meet at the cremation; Chloe’s feelings about her mother and sister in law have softened. After a brief exchange with her Uncle she finally discovers her father was cut out of his father’s will and her Uncle got everything. She can now see how sad it was that her father was never truly accepted.
She goes to the loo, applies his lipstick as a metaphor for acceptance and when she smiles at the mirror she sees the same slightly crooked smile her father had.