It is the end of the 19th century and Victoria's reign is coming to an end. It is also the end of an era, but no one knows. The landed gentry, so soon to lose their power, are the last to suspect.
Bertha Ley is mistress of Court Ley, a great spread of land. She marries Edward Craddock, a man beneath her station, but quite the essence of new order. A gentleman farmer, he is steady and a doer who turns Court Ley into an efficient farm. But Bertha wants passion and ardor: she gets reality.
"Bertha's tragedy is in her expectations--life would be so simple without them. Her assaults on the amiable Craddock are as rational as beating a flounder for not flying." (Literary Observer)