Edwardian England is a country at the peak of its power; a kingdom of peace, prosperity and progress. As Jessie and Violet enjoy their coming-out in the glittering Season of 1908, their thoughts are of pleasure, dancing and falling in love.
For the Morlands things seem set fair: new business ventures expand their influence and wealth; there are weddings, babies in the nursery, careers for the boys now reaching manhood. It is an exciting age, with new technologies - motor cars, telephones, radio, aeroplanes - extending man's control over the natural world.
But under the appearance of permanence, a different reality is stirring. Socialism, the suffrage movement, the constitutional crisis, all call forth ever more dissent and anger. Increasingly violent protests and strikes disturb the peace; war with Germany looms ever closer. With the King's death, it begins to seem that the safe Edwardian world was only a dream, from which the wakening will be hard indeed.