England in 1912 still bears itself with Edwardian confidence, but strikes, protests and public violence reveal the fault lines as society evolves under the spur of new ideas and technology. Among the many branches of the Morland family, Jessie and Violet, childhood friends, learn to cope with the surprises of marriage and motherhood and their different strata of society. Jack, disappointed in love, loses himself in designing aircraft and training airmen for the newly formed flying corps. And Anne exhausted by the Suffragette struggle, seeks comfort in her friendship with an unconventional young woman.
The Titanic tragedy shakes the confidence of a people used to conquering nature with engineering; and all the while, the troubled nations of Europe edge closer to a war no-one wants, but which seems inevitable.