Noah Solloway is a novelist and schoolteacher. He has four children with Helen, his first love. A writing career of highs and lows, a checkered past, and feelings of inferiority have colored his personality. The sudden and tantalizing appearance of Alison in his life radically alters its course.
Helen Solloway is the daughter of a hugely successful but demanding novelist. She is Noah's wife at the start of his affair with Alison and the mother of his four children, and she is devastated by the betrayal. It destroys her marriage and turns her against her husband of twenty years.
Alison Lockhart is a native of Montauk. The tragic loss of a child rips her apart and proves disastrous to her marriage. She is wracked with guilt and grief and prone to making questionable choices. Her affair and relationship with Noah definitely complicates her life, but it seems like this is nothing new for her.
Cole Lockhart is the prodigal son of a large, boisterous family who has lived in Montauk for generations. He is equally distraught over the loss of his son, but unlike Alison, he desires to keep their relationship alive. Alison's affair is extremely painful for Cole, but he continues to carry a torch for her long after it destroys their marriage.
Whitney is the oldest of Noah and Helen Solloway's four children. Independent, brash and on the brink of adulthood, she becomes dangerously entangled with a Montauk local, much to the shock and surprise of her parents.
Margaret Butler is Helen's wealthy, overbearing mother. Also married to a novelist, Margaret has no qualms about imposing her views on marriage, love, childcare and money on Helen, especially in light of Noah's indiscretions.
Max is an old college friend of both Noah and Helen's who has gone on to make it big in the world of high finance. Although he and Noah are still very close, Max has always carried a torch for Helen, and the troubles in her marriage just might give him the opening he has been waiting for.
Detective Jeffries is the chief investigator of a fatal hit-and-run accident that took the life of a Montauk citizen. No one is off his watch list as he tries to solve the crime.
Oscar Hodges is the meddling, scheming childhood friend, and sometimes foe, of both Alison and Cole Lockhart. Having all grown up together, Oscar is inextricably linked to Alison and Cole's past and tied to their future.
Dr. Ullah is the charming but mysterious surgeon who treats Noah and Helen's son for a life-threatening condition. He and Helen become close, and a casual affair becomes something much more serious.
Juliette Le Gall is a visiting professor of French Medieval Studies researching and teaching at Noah's university for a semester. Chic, intelligent, and unafraid of voicing her often dissenting views, Juliette's attraction to Noah and her reasons for coming to the States may not be as carefree as they appear.
The principal at Noah's new high school in Los Angeles is tough as nails. She is a no-nonsense educator who has been brought in to reform this failing school, and she is not impressed by Noah's laid-back style or bad boy novelist credentials. Her toughness has not made her any friends among the rest of the faculty, either.
A student in Noah's senior English class, Anton refuses to participate and is openly belligerent. So it comes as a complete surprise to Noah when Anton turns out to be brilliant.
A military vet who has recently served two tours in Afghanistan, Ben literally comes to Alison's rescue at work. Although there is a strong mutual attraction between them, Ben has many skeletons in his closet, including being in the middle of a year-long celibacy period as part of his twelve-step recovery program. But he and Alison can't seem to stay apart.