Pepita tells the extraordinary story of writer Vita Sackville-West's grandmother Josefa (known as Pepita), and her mother Victoria. Pepita, the half-gypsy daughter of an old-clothes pedlar from Malaga, makes her fortune as a dancer in Madrid; soon she is the toast of all Europe. Over the course of a 19-year love affair -- never legalized, for Pepita has a living but estranged husband -- with the British aristocrat and diplomat Lionel Sackville-West (later the 2nd Baron Sackville), conducted around the capitals of Europe, Pepita produces five children: two sons, Max and Henry, and three daughters, Victoria, Flora, and Amalia. After Pepita's death in childbirth in 1871, her daughter Victoria is sent to an austere Paris convent to be educated. Socially ostracized without knowing why, she comes to meets her powerful relatives and is suddenly whisked off by them to serve as the hostess of her father's household in Washington when he's appointed British Minister to the USA. Eventually, against all odds, this illegitimate half-Spanish outsider becomes the mistress of Knole, one of the grandest stately houses in England. Vita Sackville-West's fascination with this unlikely history brings her two subjects vividly to life: the wild and mysterious Pepita, and the adored yet impossible Victoria.