It is 1941 and the storm clouds of war gather over Australia. In the mountains outside Sydney the Massey family are reunited by their father's death. Gilbert is a successful novelist, struggling with writer's block in middle age. A socialist and intellectual, he shares his political understanding - and fears - with his sister Marty and Marxist brother Nick. But he is locked in an unhappy marriage with a woman of little imagination and obsessive respectability, and their daughters, Prue and Virginia, are as incompatible as their parents. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, war becomes a reality. As Gilbert and his family are overtaken by the forces of history they must come to terms with their personal and public failures, and watch as the new generation inevitably mirrors the contradictions and turmoil of the old.
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