England. 1912. The largest and most luxurious ship the world has ever seen is about to make its maiden voyage to New York. Teddy Morland, head of the Yorkshire dynasty, will be aboard Titanic - along with his niece Lizzie and her husband and children, on their way to start a new life in Arizona. The nation thrills with patriotic pride in this masterwork of British engineering. But back home at Morland Place, Teddy's pregnant wife Alice is consumed with nameless anxiety, and Lizzie's mother Henrietta fears she will never see her daughter again.
The new century's wonders of science and technology promise mankind control over every aspect of life. But beneath the surface of English society the waters are far from calm. Strikes cripple the country, social unrest is widespread. The Suffragettes turn to arson and vandalism, and the Government's response is harsh. Morland cousin Anne Farraline, leader of the 'Hot Bloods', retreats into a shadowy world with her strange friend Vera Polk, playing a dangerous game under the menace of the Cat and Mouse Act, and it can only be a matter of time before someone is killed.
Other Morlands have their own struggles. Jessie and her childhood friend Violet are adjusting to the restrictions of married life. Jessie has exchanged the grandeur of Morland Place for a small suburban villa. Violet commands Brancaster Hall, yet her freedom is even more curtailed by the caprice of her husband Lord Holkam. And for Jack, love and marriage remain an insoluble problem, though he finds freedom in the air, designing aircraft and training men for the newly formed flying service.
But all personal problems are about to be subsumed by a greater tide of restlessness as the nations of Europe slide inexorably towards a war which no one wants, but which every day seems more inevitable...