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Beset by family tragedy Helen Miller is thrust into the cruel world of the late 19th century, a world where the old norms and customs are rapidly giving way to vulgarity, and the desire for wealth and power is infecting the minds of men. Small business' are giving way to large factories where men and women are subjected to slave labor with little pay, woman are in the streets demanding the right to vote while denouncing the institution of marriage as slavery, and crusaders are hailing against the evils of alcohol and demanding fair wages for workers. Into this maelstrom comes a young girl who is forced to leave her hometown in England to live with relatives in the small industrial town of Manchester, New Hampshire. Here the manners she learned at a finishing school in France will be challenged, as she is thrust into a world of vulgar manners, the struggle for power and wealth, and political intrigue.