1772: Although George III reigns over a peaceful England, his colonies in the Americas are claiming independence and a tide of revolutionary fervor is gripping France. Allen Morland and his beloved wife, Jemima, work unstintingly to bring Morland Place back to its former glory. Their seven children often bring them heartache, but they are sustained by their love of each other.
The Morland adventurer, Charles, emigrates to Maryland in pursuit of the heiress Eugenie, but finds himself in the midst of the American claim for independence. Meanwhile, Henry, the family's bastard offshoot, pursues pleasure relentlessly but pennilessly until he finds a niche for himself in the fashionable Parisian salons, whilst outside revolution creeps closer.