March 1915. Caroline Lilley's fiancé, Reggie, is away at the front, and Caroline gives up her job and returns home at his request. Frustrated in her desire to help the war effort, she throws herself into saving the harvest by organising the village women - and runs up against Reggie's mother, the formidable Lady Hunney.
Caroline's sister, Felicia, departs to become an ambulance driver on the Western Front, and Phoebe and George eagerly await their chance to leave the village. The mood in Ashden changes as it becomes apparent that this is going to be a war unlike any other.