There is no doubt about it - the Heath children have tennis in their blood. Their grandfather and father before them had been top players, and the twins are champion material. Then Nicky - cheeky, rebellious Nicky - starts to practise in secret, but talented at tennis as she is, the ambitious Nicky first has battles to win with herself.
Every family has its secrets, but it was a huge surprise to the three young Forbeses, fresh from a country vicarage, to discover that their grandmother was a famous actress. Sent to live with her in bombed-out, wartime London, they soon discovered that they were expected to follow in the family footsteps - to the footlights.
Gus the clown is Peter and Santa's only living relative, and escape to the circus seems a better idea to them than an orphanage. But Gus will keep the children only if they make themselves useful - and they have to fight hard to really belong to the circus.
At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: Communism.
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiance Cecil Vyse.