East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his beloved Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband John in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha insists that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything, and that the King, the Kaiser, the Russian Tsar and Uncle John will all be taking their scheduled summer holidays as usual. Meanwhile, she has more immediate concerns; as one of the first women allowed to be voted onto the local school’s Board of Governors, Agatha has just risked her carefully built reputation by publicly pushing for the appointment of a female Latin teacher.
When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more free thinking – and prettier – than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, Beatrice – whose father recently passed away leaving her without family or money – simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. Quickly taken under the formidable Agatha’s wing, charmed by the beauty of the Sussex landscape, Beatrice soon finds herself questioning her original opinions on spinsterhood and small town life.
But this serene countryside summer is about to end, and despite Agatha’s reassurances, an unimaginable war is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.