It’s 1913, and Lily’s comfortable middle-class Melbourne life is completely upended. As she sits in the hall of her private school, portraits of past headmistresses frowning at her, she realises the ‘glaring, unalterable fact' that she is pregnant, the father a young stablehand called Bert. Her parents disown her: the first of many wrenching challenges she must face. She marries Bert and they have a few months together in rural Woodend, where their child is born. When the war starts, Bert volunteers and Lily is thrown very much on her own resources. Once Bert returns home, Lily has to face the most momentous decision of her life.
Lily’s story, as mother, musician, wife and lover, is set in a period when she must confront issues of patriarchy, nationalism, love … and the value of a human life.