Alfred Armistead and Henry Hinchliffe are partners in Blackshaw Mills, a cloth-manufacturing firm in Yorkshire. The Armistead and Hinchliffe families differ in politics, in religion, in social outlook, but with their workmen they are representative architects of the modern social fabric.
Henry Hinchliffe's children are Edward, the steady man of affairs; Frederick, the rebellious student; Grace, the reformer. The Armisteads are Gwen the enigma, Ludo the compassionate, Laura the artistic.
The families intermarry; the war takes its toll. Meanwhile the partners in Blackshaw Mills quarrel, and reunite; enjoy prosperity, are hard hit by strike and slump, and presently pass on to their sons their unsettled problems.
Now the third generation is rising: Geoffrey and Madeline, divergent children of divergent parents; Kay, illegitimate son. Every generation, as Feuchtwanger has observed, says in its turn to its parents: "Sleep in peace! I will be different from you". The generation of Grace and Laura has struggled passionately with the problems of duty and freedom, the common good and the individual achievement; the worth of their struggle will be revealed by the solutions of the next generation. Geoffrey looks to the right for his solution, Kay to the left; gradually the transition is accomplished.
Sleep in Peace combines with deep understanding of men and women all the richness of the novelist's art.