Matilda is the granddaughter of William the Conqueror but also descended, through her mother, from the ancient line of Anglo-Saxon kings. Betrothed to Emperor Henry of Germany at the age of eight, she is married at 12 and crowned Empress. By her early 20s she is a widow, and the only surviving legitimate heir to her father, Henry I of England. Forced into a second marriage to a boy 10 years younger, she gives birth to three sons, the male heirs her father longs for.
"Tedious story and distracting performance"
In an empty theatre at the end of the pier, the cast of the Fairbourne Follies gathers round the radio to hear war declared on Germany. Four friends are forced to part. Rose must return to her family in London, leaving singer Richard to enlist in the army, with their relationship still unresolved. Asthmatic Merry, the musical director, is destined for the army too, while the charismatic magician Felix chooses the RAF.
January 1941. Dark days for four friends torn apart by war. When Rose Taylor receives two proposals on New Year's Eve she has to face an agonising choice that will separate her from all those she loves.
The year is 1912 and Britain is gripped by fear of war with Germany. Headstrong Leonora Malham Brown feels stifled by the restraints imposed on her by her respectable upbringing. But a chance encounter with the feisty Victoria Langford is set to broaden her horizons. Victoria introduces Leo to the FANY, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. When trouble flares up in the Balkans, Victoria and Leo decide to put their skills to practical use and head to Bulgaria to offer their assistance on the battlefield.
1914. When Leonora Malham Brown's brother and fiancé head to the front, she must remain behind, unable to make use of her nursing experience in the Balkans. She is deeply frustrated, but there is another reason for her disappointment: despite her fondness for her fiancé, her heart belongs to dashing Colonel Sasha Malkovic.
It is 1942. The theatres of war are North Africa and Italy. All eyes follow the front, but behind the scenes, a messier war continues. Cabaret singer by night, spy by day, Richard risks his life to help British servicemen escape occupied France and get back to England. Rose leads a group of dancers with mixed morals, high-kicking to entertain the troops as Hitler's bombers roar in the skies above. Then she is given orders to join the forces on the field, destination unknown.
Occupied France is a dangerous place for two teenagers, especially when they are the children of a French mother and a British father. Desperate to escape and get back to England they take refuge on a canal barge and find themselves immersed in the complex Operation Kingfisher. There are plenty of forces at work determined to scupper any plans to see Allied airmen safely back to England, and eyes are everywhere.
It is Spring 1944 but for dancer Rose, entertainer Merry, pilot Felix and spy Richard the end of the war is still not in sight. Desperately tired after months living rough with Italian partisans, Richard makes a mistake that results in a devastating tragedy. Rose, performing for the troops, at last finds a man she feels she can love and is forced to make the most difficult decision of her life. Merry's lover is returned to him from the jaws of death only to be separated from him again by the demands of duty.
In 1955,Cyprus is torn apart by EOKA, and Ariadne’s family is deeply involved, but her heart skips the divide on seeing young officer Stephen Allenby when her house is searched by the British. They have an affair, but when it becomes known, he is sent home. In 1974 Stephen exists in a strained marriage and miserable job, but resurgence of EOKA activity affords him the opportunity to return to the island, with his wife and daughter in tow, where he searches for remembrances of his youth.