Two brothers, Arthur and Jake, are the sons of a local farmer in the mid-1930s, when life is tough and another world war is looming. Arthur is reticent, solid, dutiful, set to inherit the farm and his father's character; Jake is younger, attractive, mercurial and dangerous to know - though all he really wants is his father's approval. A young woman, Laura, comes into the community and tips the fragile balance of sibling rivalry over the edge
And then there is Ian, son of the local doctor, much younger, thoughtful, idealistic, and far too sure that he knows the difference between right and wrong. By now it is the Fifties, and the world has changed - a little, but not enough.
The stories of these two generations in the small town of Struan and its harsh rural hinterland are tragically interlocked, linked by fate and community but separated by a war which devours its young men.