Roy Southgate and Reginald Conynghame-Jervis have nothing in common but their loneliness and their wartime memories. Roy, a retired milkman and Reggie, a former RAF Squadron Leader, are widowed on the same day. To assuage their grief, the vicar arranges for Roy to move in with Reggie as his unpaid manservant. To their surprise, they form a strange alliance, based on obedience, need and the strangeness of single life.
"We who are members of the single classes, unmarried and unattached, are always waiting to fall in love...Every day and each encounter holds out the possibility of that momentous flash which will change everything." Constance Liddell, in her mid-forties, answers a personal column ad - "Polish gentleman, 50s, political refugee, seeks intellectual woman for marriage" - and arranges to meet Iwo Zaluski. For Constance, her work, children, friends and friendship with her charming, philandering ex-husband only sometimes alleviate the deeper longing for intimacy and marriage.
It was called the London Season, and for three centuries it had been a time of fashionable suppers and brilliant balls that introduced England's most aristocratic and eligible girls to society. Though by 1939 the stately gavottes and minuets had long since given way to waltzes and fox-trots, the cream of young womanhood still curtsied low before the Queen and then went out to dance the night away with the young men they would one day marry. But the Season of 1939 was different: it was to be the last.
Oliver and his wife arrive by Eurostar to attend the birthday party of grandchild Hugo. Hugo's grandmother Harriet is also on her way. Oliver and Harriet fail to recognise one another at first - but the physical attraction is instantaneous. Harriet's son, Roderick,, a successful banker, is married to Jennifer, who works in publishing. Attempting to reconcile careers, marriage and children leads to high stress levels as the two generations walk a dangerous tightrope between fidelity and parenthood.
Set within a girls' boarding school in the 1920s, this is the story of petty treachery and deceits which culminate in violence and the realization of change. Long light evenings, swimming and tennis, striped cotton frocks. It's summer term at Raeburn. New arrival Constance King hates her boarding school on sight, yet dreams of being accepted by the other girls. Instead, she finds a ferment of frustrated hopes mingled with excited expectations.