A tedious, pieced-together tale of four generations of Farthingales--a Gloucestershire family of jumped-up landed gentry, whose progenitor, Jeremy, acquired Mayhill Manor in 1845 and slapped a tower and a couple of turrets onto it. Jeremy's sons inherit his taint of land-madness; as a young child, Mark shoots bis older brother Paul to make sure he'll inherit Mayhill. Things go from bad to worse thereafter--lechery, rape, lesbianism, alcoholism, suicide, murder, and neglected children all haunt the manor, which gets rather a bad reputation as a result. So do the Farthingales, each generation of which is more troubled in its predictable way than the last, till we hit World War I and an incendiary bomb hits Mayhill. Don't give a farthing for these Farthingales.