The story opens in the present, at an anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Daniel Lamb, veteran ace pilot for the Royal Air Force, now ninety and handicapped, is being driven to the celebration to receive an award as one of the last of ‘the Few.’ On the way, the passing panorama triggers memories of that summer of war and love.
Most of the book takes place in 1940, when twenty year-old Daniel is stationed at RAF Kelsmeath as a front-line Spitfire pilot and invasion is expected any day. Rosalind Ainsworth, a young woman he’s known since they were children and who is becoming a romantic infatuation, contrives to get transferred to a hospital near him. They try to make their relationship work, but she falls for one of Daniel’s squadron, a braggart and, some believe, a coward.
Daily battles in the air against the Luftwaffe’s best are mixed with more intimate conflicts on the ground, until summer’s end, when Germany gives up on invasion and Daniel’s luck in the air runs out.