One Vacant Chair : Sarah's aunt Edna paints portraits of chairs. Not people in chairs, just chairs. Her old house is filled with her paintings, and the chairs themselves surround her work - a silent yet vigilant audience. At the funeral of Grandma Hutton - whom Edna has cared for through a long and vague illness - Sarah begins helping her aunt clean up the last of a life. This includes honoring Grandma's surprising wish to have her ashes scattered in Scotland. As the novel turns from the oppressive heat of Texas to the misty beauty of Scotland, Sarah learns of her aunt's remarkable secret life and comes to fully understand the fragile business of living, and even of dying.