In a small town in the middle of England, the aftermath of the Second World War brings change. For ambitious industrialist Charles Freeman, it offers new opportunities and marriage to Mary. He buys the big house on the hill and nails his aspirations to the future.
In quick succession, three sons and a daughter bring life to the big house and, with it, the seeds of family joy and tragedy. As the children grow and struggle with the hazards of adulthood, Charles' business expands in direct proportion to his girth and becomes a symbol of the town's fortunes as Britain claws its way back from the grey austerity of wartime Britain.
As times change, so do the family's fortunes. Their stories create a generous epic, an extraordinarily rich and plangent hymn to the transformation of middle England over the past fifty years. At its heart is a diverse and persuasive cast of loveable and odious characters attempting to contend with the restrictions of their generation. This is the story of our lives.