It is 1939, and the lives of four very different women are about to collide in the sleepy Sussex village of Crowmarsh Priors. Evangeline Fontaine has eloped from New Orleans with dashing naval captain Richard Fairfax. Alice Osbourne, living with her mother, is resigned to life as the parish spinster. But the war brings her an unexpected passion. Tanni Joseph has fled from Vienna with her new husband, and arrives with her newborn son. Frances Falconleigh is to see out the war with her godmother, but her high spirits lead her into danger. They form a bond that lasts for the rest of their lives and sees them through their darkest hours.