1857: life in England is stable and prosperous, but once again war in a foreign land casts a heavy shadow over the Morland family.
At Morland Place, Benedict's orderly life of estate matters and civic interests is shaken when a mysterious orphan arrives. No-one -- least of all his wife, Sibella -- can understand why he takes this waif into the household, and the strain his arrival causes, forces Benedict to take him to join his daughter Mary in America. Once there, he becomes enamoured of the Southern way of life, just as bitter civil war is about to destroy it forever.
In London, Charlotte is persuaded to support the new divorce bill, a stance which only deepens the rift with her husband, Oliver, and when a source of comfort is unexpectedly offered to her she has to decide whether or not to give up all hope of reconciliation with the man she still loves.