The novel begins on Christmas Day, 1916 and then quickly progresses into 1917. The war for the Hunter Family and its servants, as well as for Britain, has become all-consuming. No-one, not a corner of the country has been left untouched by the war's effects, both direct and indirect. Starvation looms as a distinct possibility in Britain as Germany's campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare (resumed in February) threatens to put a firm stranglehold on it, and cut the country off from its vital sea lanes that keep the nation supplied with the essential foodstuffs and materials with which to continue the fight.
As for the Hunters, Diana the eldest daughter married to the sly, witty and irrepressible dandy Rupert (Lord Dene) is now with child. David, the eldest, is home permanently from France, where he sustained a serious wound to his leg (which he came close to losing) and is in a deep funk. He has been invalided from the Army and is at loss as to what the future might hold for him. Sadie, the other daughter, continues to work at Highclere, helped to break-in and train horses for the Army. The other 2 children in the family (William, 17, and Peter, 11) are also, in their respective ways, changing because of the war.
There is so much more I would love to say. But that would be giving away much too much of what is a gripping, emotional roller-coaster ride of a novel. I became fully invested in the lives of many of its characters, several of whom suffer tragedy and heartache -- as well as love.
I've been a fan of Cynthia Harrod-Eagles as a writer for close to 15 years. She never disappoints. And now that I've finished reading "THE LONG, LONG TRAIL, 1917", I'm going to take a short break before plunging into the next novel in the series.
Reading this, the fourth novel in the 'War at Home' series, has given me a keener appreciation of how the First World War impacted every strata of British society, not just those who served on active service on the various fighting fronts.