In the tumultuous years before the First World War, sisters Iris, Marianne, Eva and Clemency, born and raised in industrial Sheffield, seek to follow their dreams.
When twenty-year-old Marianne meets handsome, sophisticated Arthur Leighton at a local provincial ball, she knows that she has found the love of her life. Years pass, and Iris, her ambition of a grand marriage dashed, becomes a nurse in a London hospital, surprising herself, and her family, at her ability to deal with the injuries and needs of her patients. When Eva falls in love with the Bohemian, Gabriel Bellamy, her hopes of becoming an artist falter, for though he admires her work, he expects attention in return for his tutelage. Caring for her invalid mother, Clemency remains tied to the family home, stifling her dreams of a life elsewhere. And Marianne's desire for happiness turns to nightmare when she finds herself trapped in an isolated outpost of the Empire with a cruel and dangerous man. Only her love for her son and her memory of her sisters, thousands of miles away in England, give her the strength to survive.
As the clouds darken and war changes the lives all the sisters have known, Iris, Marianne, Eva and Clemency fight to free themselves of the bonds that confine them and discover love at last.