At Fiennders Abbey, still and cool summer after summer, a fire in every grate each winter, the family has prospered for generations. As the nineteenth century draws to a close, little indicates that anything there, in the farms and fields, lanes and stables, could ever change. England is sleeping, its dreams peaceful and sweet.... Richard Fiennders and Mary Bowden, devoted friends as children, belong within those dreams. As they grow older, however, their affection for each other begins to stir uneasiness in their parents. Anne Fiennders would never allow her son to wed the gamekeeper's daughter, and Mary's mother, all too aware of her family's dependence upon the Fiennders estate, will do anything to remain in that family's favor. With the passing years, progress invades the small town, and all of England is awakened. Richard and Mary face the end of an era of rigidly ordered living and the collapse of class barriers as they struggle to break free from their families' expectations and create the life they desire.