As the summer of 1899 gives way to autumn, Lord Dilberne’s decision to remain in Belgrave Square rather than move the household to the ancestral acres of Dilberne Court sends out ripples of concern. His gamble on mining shares in the Transvaal has brought no financial relief to an already mortgaged estate.
The novel explores how change affects the lives above stairs and below. But as it unfolds, the novel also becomes a love story, precipitated by the arrival of Minnie, an unmarried American heiress, and her resourceful mother. With wit and sympathy – and no small measure of mischief – Ms Weldon plots the interplay of restraint and desire, manners and morals, reason and instinct.