Set just before and during the Second World War, Enduring Passions is the tale of two lovers, Tom and Fay, reaching out to each other across the yawning class divide of England in 1939. Fay is the daughter of Lord Rossiter, a minister in the Chamberlain government, Tom the son of a washer-woman and an unemployed ex-soldier, gassed in the First War. Tom lives with his parents and Gran in a small mid-terrace cottage, whilst Fay resides at Codrington Hall waited on by a populous staff of servants, and indulged by her devoted parents—and altogether it’s no wonder that everyone except the two of them is aghast at their romance.
But this is a doughty pair and ready to deal with all obstacles. A chink in the class wall opens when Tom learns to fly, a skill that will become very significant and valuable as the war begins. No longer a humble worker for the Great Western Railway, but a dare-devil fighter ace, he begins to look better and better to Fay’s snobbish parents. Meanwhile, Fay, separated from her Tom by the war, has to endure a much harder fate.
Clearly the story has ingredients that are familiar, perhaps over-familiar, and includes what might be called almost a stock company of minor actors: her bufferish parents, his salt-of the earth Mum, Dad and Gran, and a chorus of Fay’s snobby friends, led by the extremely caddish Jeremy. But Wiltshire tells the tale with great sincerity, and with occasional unexpected turns in the plot, so that one is made a believer by the end, and finds oneself really caring what will happen to the star-crossed lovers. Incidentally it would probably make a pleasing hour on television, of the nature of Foyle’s War and other TV excursions into the near past.