This epic novel, which spans six generations of mothers and daughters, begins in 1815, during Britain's war with Napoleon, and ends after World War II. These life stories, knitted together into an ongoing family saga, show the vast changes to English society. These women were witnesses, participants, and survivors through the Regency Period, the Victorian Age, the Industrial Revolution, and on into the twentieth century, with its world wars and social reforms.
At the heart of the novel are the lives, loves, and social causes of six strong women-Violet, a kitchen maid; Amanda, her illegitimate daughter who marries an aristocrat; Felicity, a pianist who dreams of marrying a duke; Norma, the battered wife of a wealthy scoundrel; Prudence, a women's suffragist and social reformer; and Christine, a World War II photojournalist.
As different as each of these women is from the others, they all remain true to the motto coined by Violet, who wished a better future for her daughter: "Grasp every opportunity that life offers you."