At Messina, a messenger brings news that Don Pedro, a prince from Aragon, will return that night from a successful battle, Claudio being among his soldiers. Beatrice, Leonato's niece, asks the messenger about Benedick, Don Pedro's companion, and makes sarcastic remarks about his ineptitude as a soldier. Leonato explains that "There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her." Upon the arrival of the soldiers, Leonato welcomes Don Pedro and invites him to stay for a month, Benedick and Beatrice resume their "merry war " and Pedro's illegitimate brother Don John is introduced.
This is the tale of 17 year old Cassandra, who lives in a decaying castle with her zany family in 1930s England. Her adventure begins when two American boys come to visit, and she finds she has a lot of growing up to do. It was written in the 40s, but it is a timeless coming-of-age story.