Christmas 1917, and as the Lilley family gathers at the Rectory in the Sussex village of Ashden, the mood is far from festive. Caroline’s parents refuse to support her love of Belgian Army intelligence officer Captain Yves Rosier, and she is forced to leave abruptly. Phoebe falls in love with a divorced music-hall singer, and she too incurs her parents’ disapproval. The new year brings fresh tragedy, and Caroline returns to Ashden as the war ends. The Rectory opens its doors to a new world, its inhabitants strengthened by the grief and happiness shared during the long years of war.