Katy, a maidservant at Cheadle Manor, longs to escape her narrow life but events unfold slowly in her rural village in Wiltshire. Jem Phipps has always loved Katy. His proposal of marriage rescues her from scandal but after tragedy strikes Jem becomes a reluctant soldier on the battlefields of The First World War, leaving Katy behind, restless and alone. Lionel White, the local curate, has just returned from India bringing a dash of colour to the small village and offers Katy a window on the wider world. Only when Katy joins up as a WAAC girl does she finally break free from the stifling class-ridden hierarchies that bind her but the brutality of 20th-century global war brings home the price she has paid for her search. Through the horrors of WW1, Katy discovers only love brings freedom.