In the summer of 1914, life continues apace in old familiar patterns. As Lord Hadleigh plans his annual grouse shoot and his wife and daughter choose their wardrobes for a voyage to America, their stableman, Sam Harding, tries to make ends meet as he and his wife, Kate, await the birth of their first child.
In a nearby town, the Burgess brothers - Charlie, a socialist miner, and Matthew, a lay minister with an unshakable faith - watch their father die, slowly suffocating from the coal dust in his lungs.
In London, Sir Henry Driver, a self-made clothing manufacturer, subsidizes his wife's social ambitions while their daughter, Charlotte, fights for the vote for women alongside Emily Hill, a poor East Ender. Meanwhile, Tom White, a bored accounting clerk, dreams of adventure, little suspecting what will befall him.
By the end of the decade, their lives will be interwoven and forever changed as their fates are tossed into the maelstrom of war. And a horrific tragedy will finally unlock the secret of Hadleigh Hall.