Release Date: October 10, 1999
Production Company: BBC
Filming Locations: Carton House, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland
Shell Cottage, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland
The three older Lennox sisters come of age amid the pomp and splendor of King George II's court. Prospects of an arranged marriage for Caroline vanish when she elopes with an ambitious politician. Then Emily is swept off her feet by a dashing nobleman who, unfortunately for the picky Lennox parents, is Irish. Louisa also lands an Irish husband, immensely rich. The sisters stay in close touch, comparing notes on books, fashions, children, and the infidelities of men. Emily confides to Louisa: "Sometime I may have a lover, too."
Teenager Sarah Lennox makes her debut in London society and catches the eye of the Prince of Wales, the future King George III. With visions of a queen in the family, Caroline's husband, Henry Fox, manipulates the young lovers toward marriage. The match collapses for reasons of state, and Sarah ends up wedded to a loveless cad. Soon she is openly practicing adultery.
Emily flirts with scandal by espousing the social ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau while brewing romance with her children's penniless tutor, whom she eventually marries. Later, her son Edward Fitzgerald is brewing Irish revolution, which ends disastrously. As the sisters enter middle age, Sarah settles down with a respectable military man; Caroline's son Charles James Fox attains the political stature vainly sought by his corrupt father; and Louisa cultivates distinctly un-aristocratic views on class and poverty.