Anyone arriving to stay at Stoke Park in Worcestershire could be forgiven for thinking that the house has a timeless quality. Certainly this occurs to Frederick Jourdan, the American composer who has rented the place to escape from overwork and from his well-meaning but exhausting fiancee. He revels in the peace and beauty of the place, until, early one morning, happening upon the heartstopping sight of the reclusive young occupant of the nearby Folly feeding deer at early dawn, he finds his life has been changed for ever.
Time has indeed stood still for Fleur Fisher-Dilke, but for reasons that the new tenant of Stoke Park cannot possibly guess. Born to an ambitious surgeon and his social-climbing wife, as a child Fleur was moved to Worcestershire for the sole purpose of improving the family's social prospects. Quite by chance, however, she finds she has a prodigious gift, and in spite of her parents' opposition, her talent blossoms and she becomes famous beyond anyone's imaginings. Choices are made, but not forgiven, and it is only when her life takes a sudden and tragic turn, and she meets a fascinating and irreverent figure who is her opposite in every way, that Fleur finds that she has suffered a change of heart.