It’s 1914, and the Lyle family is at a crossroads. Malcolm Lyle must decide whether to devote the Keystone Steam Works resources to a lucrative war project, or to back his son, Augustus, in the ill-fated steam-powered Lylemobile. Meanwhile, his youngest son, John Lincoln, has gone off unannounced to fight the Kaiser’s invasion of Europe, and the boy’s unmarried twin sister, Mary Lydia, is pregnant. His wife, Missy, is content to lie around reading women’s magazines and eating bonbons. His steely eighty-nine-year-old Mother, Libby, watches Malcolm with what he believes is an unapproving eye. Then there is Libby’s Caribbean maid, Perpetual, with a room full of medicinal plants and an indelible, irrepressible spirit, who has become the axis around whom the Lyle household revolves.