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Barsetshire in the latter years of the Second World War is a peaceful and gossipy place, but there has been one lively change.
A girls' school, evacuated from London, has taken over Harefield Park.
Miss Sparling seems to be the perfect headmistress: she dresses as a headmistress should and is an easy and erudite conversationalist.
Her new neighbours like her and her pupils respect her, but there is something missing from her life; something which - though she never dreamt it when she arrived - perhaps Barsetshire can provide...