The author of the bestselling Cazalet Chronicles brilliantly captures the coming-of-age hopes and yearnings of an adolescent English girl during World War I The fourth child born to a struggling musician and a mother who's an incurable romantic, Lavinia lives an unremarkable existence. But a visit to a sprawling country estate transforms her world and becomes the touchstone for the rest of her life. Lavinia is sixteen when she's invited to a house party given by distant acquaintances. It's her first trip away from home, and she's instantly mesmerized by her beautiful and lush new surroundings. Days are filled with delectable meals and skating and riding lessons; nights with parties and dancing. Lavinia adores her hosts, Lucy and Gerald Lancing, and their boisterous extended family-and the mysterious, conceited Rupert Laing, with whom she shares her first kiss. But the visit can't last forever. Soon after she returns home, the First World War breaks out. As Lavinia matures, and other people pass through her life-including Ian Graham, the soldier who loves her yet doesn't expect her love in return-she continues to view things through the prism of that unforgettable Christmas with the Lancings. Elizabeth Jane Howard's debut novel about a young girl's spiritual and emotional awakening, the painful pride of youth, and female emancipation, The Beautiful Visit is a moving montage of English life at the beginning of the last century.