Heloise and James Morland are presiding over the Morland family home, farm, and wool production business in uneasy times. England is in a depression recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. Heloise does what she can to offer emotional support, and food to the villagers who work for the Morlands, but it can't begin to address the needs. She is very concerned about her daughter Sophie who is struggling to move on after losing her fiance in the battle of Waterloo. The Morlands find support in a new family chaplain, Father Moineau, who also acts as a tutor to the two small Morland boys.
In the midst of these struggles, a violent storm takes the life of Edward who took care of most of the business workings for the family. James is forced to step into the breach. To alleviate debts, he considers selling the Hobsbawn cotton factories that Heloise inherited. To explore this option, he sends Heloise and Sophie to Manchester to discuss and observe with the factories' manager Jasper Hobsbawn.
While there, Sophie becomes very involved in the movement to improve working conditions. Heloise is concerned because she feels this isn't the best occupation for a young lady who should be finding herself a husband. Sophie is persuaded to the need for reform through her own observations, and by the influence of Jasper. Since Jasper is of a lower class, the senior Morlands never suspect that romance is blooming between him and Sophie. Heloise, James and the other senior Morlands struggle with their attitudes towards the lower classes as various reform movements rise and fall. They all recognize a turning point when a workers' demonstration turns to disaster when Calvary troops are called in. Twelve people are killed in what is called the “Massacre at Peterloo.”
As Sophie and Jasper declare their genuine love for each other, Heloise and James must confront their own prejudices and decide if they will support the marriage. Their decision will affect the future of the Morland dynasty.
This report prepared by Susan Coffey