This book starts out rather gloomily, with Caroline's spiritless mother, Eleanor, making a disastrous second marriage that nearly results in her being poisoned. Fortunately, smallpox saves Eleanor by widowing her a second time, and with Eleanor's decline and death soon following, the story switches to the much more interesting figure of Caroline herself. We follow Caroline into her marriage with George Augustus, whose father is destined to become King George I of England. In what would apparently become a Hanoverian family tradition, George I and George Augustus hate each other heartily, and their jockeying for power once the family moves from Hanover to England forms most of the plot of the novel.
Caroline is an intelligent, shrewd opportunist who is quick to take advantage of George I's unattractive personality by ingratiating herself with the people. Though George I succeeds in getting control of some of Caroline's children, Caroline is no victim like her mother; the fight never goes out of her. I also liked George Augustus's mother-in-law, Sophia, who is pleased when George Augustus takes up with an English mistress: "It should improve his English," she tells the furious Caroline. Sophia is one of several cheerfully cynical characters here.