It is summer 1939 and the social event of the year is about to take place: Rose Birkett, a flighty beauty with a penchant for breaking engagements and hearts, is finally getting married, and the whole village – especially her parents – breathes a sigh of relief. By autumn, however, summer weddings seem a distant memory as war reaches Barsetshire. While the younger generation throws itself into the war effort with cheerful aplomb, older residents remember the last war keenly, and are fearful. When an entire London school of evacuees arrive, as well as a number of refugees, the village rallies round to accommodate them. Some inhabitants, though, fail to welcome the newcomers with open arms. First published in 1940, this is a humourous and poignant picture of wartime in a rural community.