It is 1910. Jessica and Phyllis Melville have grown up at Ellinghurst, their family estate. A headstrong beauty, Jessica longs for London - the glitter and glamor of debutante life - while bookish Phyllis dreams in vain of attending the university. Neither girl questions that it is Theo, their adored brother, whom their mother loves best. Theo eclipses everyone around him, including the diffident Oskar Grunewald, who is a frequent visitor to Ellinghurst.
It is 1855 and William May has returned to London from the battlefields of the Crimea, devastated by the horrors he has suffered on the front line. Back home with his wife and young son, disoriented by the chaos and clamour of the burgeoning city, May tries to rebuild his life. When he secures a job with Bazalgette to transform the city's sewer system, he believes it will prove his salvation.
"I wish I was warned!!!!"
London 1887. For Maribel Campbell Lowe, the beautiful bohemian wife of a maverick politician, it is the year to make something of herself. A self-proclaimed Chilean heiress educated in Paris, she is torn between poetry and the new art of photography. But it is soon plain that Maribel's choices are not so simple. As her husband's career hangs by a thread, her real past, and the family she abandoned, come back to haunt them both.
"Wry humor; excellent story"
It is 1718 and, in a small parish near Newcastle, Eliza Tally, a headstrong girl of 16, embarks on a reckless love affair that will prove her undoing. When her lover casts her off, denying their union, she is forced to travel to London, a city that attracts and alarms her in equal measure. There, she takes up a position in the house of an apothecary, Grayson Black, whom she trusts to salvage what remains of her reputation.
It is 1887, and an unsettled London is preparing for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. For Maribel Campbell Lowe, the beautiful, bohemian wife of a maverick politician, it is the year she plans to make her own mark on the world. But her husband's outspoken views inspire enmity as well as admiration - and the wife of a member of parliament should not be hiding the kind of secrets Maribel has buried in her past. When a notorious newspaper editor begins to take an uncommon interest in her, Maribel fears he will destroy not only her husband's career but both of their reputations.