Sebastian is young, handsome, moody, and the heir to Chevron, a vast and opulent ducal estate. He feels a deep love for the countryside and for his patrimony, but he loathes the frivolous social world his mother and her shallow friends represent. At one of his mother’s decadent house parties, Sebastian meets two people who shake his sense of self: Leonard Anquetil, a lowborn arctic explorer, who questions his mode of living; and Lady Roehampton, a married society beauty with a string of lovers, who breaks his heart. When Sebastian reaches the brink of despair, it is his self-possessed younger sister, Viola, who opens for them both a gateway to another world.
An instant bestseller when it was published in 1930, this glittering satire of Edwardian high society features a privileged brother and sister torn between tradition and a chance at an independent life.