Phineas Finn, the handsome Irishman, is equally successful at scaling the political ladder and gaining the affection of influential women. As he makes his precarious way in parliament he discovers how far principles must be sacrificed to the common cause, and how essential money is to political progress. Set during the turbulent passage of the second Reform Act of 1867, the novel paints a vivid picture of the compromises and tactics of daily political life. Loss of independence is felt just as keenly by Lady Laura and Violet Effingham, whose choice of marriage partner will determine their future freedom as much as their happiness. With politics and the personal so closely entwined, Phineas faces an act of conscience that will have a profound effect on his life. , Phineas Finn's engaging plot embraces matters as diverse as reform, the position of women, the Irish question, and the conflict between integrity and ambition.