Packards is an Oxford Street Department store founded in the mid-nineteenth century by Sir Thomas Packard. In 1908 he is old and seeks his successor. His only daughter and her feckless husband spend his fortune but despise its provenance so he looks to his grandchildren: EDWARD has all his grandfather's ruthlessness but none of his vision; PERRY is a good-time boy and AMELIE, intelligent and ambitious, is willing to take anyone on to gain control of the store. Alongside their story is that of Packardss employees: DAISY CHAPMAN, thrilled to have found an escape from East End drudgery; skilled and promotable but forced to choose between love and her job. ISOBEL NORTON who has fled from her brother-in-law's advances to make a new life for herself, and JOHNNY MILLER, loved by Isobel and in love with Daisy. Together, their stories combine to create a sweeping absorbing vision of a cross-section of society in the early years of the century.