Belle Lawe makes the long journey to England in 1912. She is escaping from what she imagines to be a shameful secret, and by the time she has left school, and the Great War is raging in France, she attempts to immerse herself in a life of gaiety and fun.
Adam Palairet, who had shared his childhood with Belle, returns wounded from the trenches having seen many of his friends and comrades blown to bits in the fighting. Belle, disappointed in love and with her favourite cousin dead in the influenza epidemic which was ravaging England, falls ill and only survives when Adam finds her and takes her to Scotland to recover. She is hostile towards Adam and resentful of his managing ways, but at the gaunt, grey edifice of Cairngowrie Hall they begin to work out their differences. When Adam has to return to the front, Belle has to confront the man who brought her so much misery in her childhood, and who threatens to remove her only chance of happiness.