Each year at Schillings Hall, in the snow-crisped English countryside, the mysterious Miss Lilly draws around her young women selected from Europe’s royal and most influential families. Her girls are taught how to captivate a man - and find a potential husband - at a dinner. In a salon, or at a grouse shoot, in ways that would surprise outsiders. For in 1914, persuading and charming men in the only true power a woman has.
Sophie Higgs is the daughter of Australia’s king of corned beef and the only ‘colonial’ brought to Schillings Hall. Of all Miss Lily’s lovely ladies, however, she is also the only one who suspects Miss Lily’s true purpose.
As the chaos of war spreads, women across Europe so shrug off etiquette. The lovely ladies and their less privileged sisters become the unacknowledged backbone of the war, creating hospitals, canteens and transport systems where bungling officials fail to cope. And when tens of thousands can die in a single day’s battle, Sophie must use the skills Miss Lily taught her to prevent war’s most devastating weapon yet.
But is Miss Lily a heroine or traitor?
And who, exactly, is she?