The Honourable Mrs. Anne Damer is a young widow of eccentric tastes, the only female sculptor of her time. The Earl of Derby, inventor of the horse race that bears his name, is the richest man in the House of Lords, and the ugliest. Miss Eliza Farren, born a nobody, now reigns as Queen of Comedy at Drury Lane Theatre. In a time of looming war and terrorism, of glittering spectacle and financial disasters, the wealthy liberals of the Whig Party work to topple a tyrannical prime minister and a lunatic king. Marriages and friendships stretch or break; political liaisons prove as dangerous as erotic ones, and everyone wears a mask. Will Eliza Farren gain entry to that elite circle that calls itself the World? Can Lord Derby's pride endure public mockery of his long, unconsummated courtship of the actress? Will Anne Damer ever silence the whispers of Sapphism that have haunted her since her husband's death?