Growing up in the 1920s and 1930s in a middle-class Anglo-French family in rural England, Genevieve Martin follows in the family tradition of completing her education at Oxford, where she studies French and German. During her time at Oxford, she meets up again with Etienne Duval, who is to become the love of her life. After completing their studies, they plan to marry but before they can do so, Etienne is unexpectedly summoned back to France by his family, where his elder brother, the Comte Duval, is dying. Following his brothers death, Etienne inherits the family estate and title which changes the young couples lives forever, as Europe appears to be rushing headlong into another great five-year-long conflict, one in which both Genevieve and her husband would play unexpected and remarkable roles. However, the unique story is only finally revealed by Genevieve to the family decades later.