Clarissa is almost seventeen when the spell of her childhood is broken. It is 1914, the beginning of a blissful, golden summer—and the end of an era. Deyning Park is in its heyday, the large country house filled with the laughter and excitement of privileged youth preparing for a weekend party. When Clarissa meets Tom Cuthbert, home from university and staying with his mother, the housekeeper, she is dazzled. Tom is handsome and enigmatic; he is also an outsider. Ambitious, clever, his sights set on a career in law, Tom is an acute observer, and a man who knows what he wants. For now, that is Clarissa. As Tom and Clarissa's friendship deepens, the wider landscape of political life around them is changing, and another story unfolds: they are not the only people in love. Soon the world—and all that they know—is rocked by a war that changes their lives forever.