The Story chooses to set out in Anno 1892. Queen Victoria is still assiduously mourning the Prince Consort. Mr. Gladstone has become somewhat bumptious. Edward of Wales has learned his Paris. Society calls itself fin de siècle.
Having married her five tall sons into fringes of the aristocracy, Mrs. Townley, the eminently capable wife of a Midlands ironmaster, rounds out her social campaigns by installing an only daughter, Isabel, as duchess of the neighboring castle. Having thus freed her offspring from the primal curse...