It is on historical record that, on the evening of October 13th 1939, six weeks after war had been declared on Hitler’s Germany, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, fierce and implacable opponents for years over the appeasement issue, met together with their two wives, Clementine and Anne, for a private dinner at Admiralty House, an event which caused ripples throughout Westminster.
Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, but had seen all his efforts to negotiate peace with Hitler shattered. Churchill had been recalled to the cabinet after ten years ‘in the wilderness’, his dire warnings of the Nazi threat vindicated.
Lucy Armitage is an innocent baker’s daughter from England’s majestic Lake District. A shy, insecure teenager, she seems to be heading for an unremarkable future in an unremarkable family.
However the onset of World War II changes everything. A year before the outbreak of hostilities she is persuaded by her ambitious brother, Tom, and his best friend, Henry (with whom she experiences her first innocent sexual awakening) to go to London to attend secretarial college.
Lucy’s initial experience of the vast capital is an education. Then, with training almost completed, and with war on Germany declared, she is by strange chance conscripted in emergency into the secretarial team at the Admiralty. She suddenly finds herself having to take dictation from Winston Churchill himself, who has been brought back into the government as First Lord of the Admiralty after ten years ‘in the wilderness’.
As the war clouds loom and Winston prepares to take over the leadership of the nation, Lucy’s own personal trials become increasingly fused with those of her famous employer, and with the eternal contest between good and evil regimes that still exists today.