Portraits of generations of family members line a great hall in the lavish home of the Pentlands; a wealthy, upper-class family who were among the first settlers in the fictional town of Durham, New England. Members of the family desperately try to keep their prestigious reputation alive while the world around them is changing.
Olivia Pentland is about to turn forty, has been stuck in a loveless marriage to Anson Pentland, producing heirs to the family fortune, but their only son has been sick since birth and their only daughter in love with a young gentleman not approved by prominent members of the family.
Sabine Callendar, a Pentland cousin, returns to her home after a twenty-year absence to introduce her daughter at a debutante ball held on the estate. Society expects a broken-down old maid after hearing of her scandalous divorce, which is all the more delicious for Sabine as she proves to be a beautiful, confident, successful woman upon her reintroduction to her hometown. Full of mischief, Sabine is the impetus behind the drama that unfolds for Olivia, while secrets about the Pentlands are revealed and questions about all of their futures are as thick as the mist in the estate's early autumn air.
This classic novel by Louis Bromfield was published in 1926 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1927. His perspective of the social norms of his day is as relevant in today's world as it was then, and his rich language shines just as bright.