In the early years of the century the Blakeney children live in conditions of benign neglect at Edenhall in Somerset. Joined by the German and American branches of the family and the young Blooms from the village, they roam the hills and valleys of the Quantocks, free of supervision. Their magic circle is broken by tragedy until they discover a holy well in the woods, the eye of heaven. The boys are finally sent away to school, leaving Teddie to her painting and her sister Sidonie's disruptive presence. Sidonie is sent away in disgrace time and again and finds herself stranded in Germany in 1914. Throughout the long, hot summer of 1914, loving one man and loved by another, Teddie plays a dangerous game. The German cousins are professional soldiers. The American cousins are at Edenhall as the clouds of war gather. The Blakeney sons are keen to do their bit. Will the magic circle and precious family ties be fractured by the coming war? Can love survive the conflict?