‘So, you have married these two beautiful young ladies,’ General Tulenkov remarks to Lionel Sickert and his friend John Burchall, ‘and taken them from the shores of sparkling Leman to the dark Lancashire wastes. Love is more powerful than one commonly thinks.’
Their double wedding to sisters Victoria and Katharine, it would seem, will usher in a life of prosperity and contentment in the upper echelons of Edwardian society. To John in particular, the sense of order, privilege and security that pervades his world goes unquestioned, as he and Lionel forge their respective careers in the booming cotton industry.
But then comes the summer of 1914, and the eruption of Europe into war …
The years pass, and prompted by Lionel’s generosity of spirit and impatience with convention, Vicky makes choices which lead inexorably to a rift with the prosperous Burchalls. The consequences of this division must be reaped by the next generation: by the unprincipled Stanley and his unfortunate twin cousins, Joseph and Jane.