1885 - When Henrietta stepped into the arms of her one true love, Jerome Compton, it was like the ending of a fairy story. But life, and love, are rarely disposed to be so tidy.
Jerome has been married before, and in late Victorian England, divorce is still considered a shameful thing. So the Comptons leave their Yorkshire village, seeking the anonymity of London and the excitement of urban living: busy and happy, Henrietta almost forgets the shadow hanging over her.
Morland Place, the family seat, has fallen on hard times. Fire-damaged, dilapidated and shorn of much of its land, it now belongs to Henrietta's brother, Teddy. But Teddy, a good-natured, indolent clubman, cares for little but his own comfort. Until a chance meeting with a destitute waif changes his life in the most unexpected way . . .