As Ireland enters the twentieth century, two girls—close friends yet from different worlds—navigate their journeys into womanhood in this sweeping novel.
On a June morning in 1900, Rosie Killeen crosses the road that divides her family's County Mayo farm from the estate of Lord and Lady Ennis. Barely eight years old, Rosie joins the throng of servants who maintain the “big house.” But even more momentous for Rosie ins her chance meeting with the Ennis's lonely young daughter, Victoria Bell.
Though the children of the gentry seldom fraternize with locals, Lord Ennis arranges for Rosie to join in Victoria's school lessons. For Rosie, the opportunity is exhilarating yet isolating. Victoria's governess objects to teaching a peasant girl, while the other servants resent Rosie's escape from life below stairs. To complicate matters further, Rosie finds herself growing closer to Victoria's older brother, Valentine.
The girls' friendship is interrupted when Victoria is sent to Dublin for the coming season. But Ireland is changing too. The country's struggle for Home Rule, the outbreak of the Great War, and a looming Easter rebellion all herald a new era. And for Rosie, family loyalty, love, friendship and patriotism will all collide in life-changing ways, leading her through heartbreak and loss in search of her own triumphant independence.