1920s, Oxfordshire. On the brink of adulthood, Linda Radlett and her beloved cousin Fanny Logan are stuck in the countryside, impatiently waiting for life to begin so they can escape the confines of Alconleigh. Linda, who has lived her life under the terrifying regime of Uncle Matthew, dreams of excitement and adventure. But Fanny, abandoned by her mother The Bolter and raised by her Aunt Emily, is more concerned with comfort and stability. When their glamorous neighbour Lord Merlin brings Tony Kroesig to their coming out ball, Linda falls hopelessly in love with him. However, sensing Fanny's disapproval of the match, it's not long before Linda pushes Fanny away and leaves her beloved cousin feeling left behind.