In the closing years of the 19th century the Hamilton family are enjoying new-found security and modest prosperity as the owners of their own home at Ballydown. John is a respected employee of mill-owner Hugh Sinton, their patron, and Rose's four children are growing into young men and women of whom she can feel justly proud. She has a new, much-valued friend in Elizabeth Sinton, Hugh's sister, and their close bond is a source of comfort and strength to both women. Rose has every reason to be happy with her lot, after the years of hardship and poverty. As she watches James, Sam, Hannah and her last-born, strong-willed Sarah, make their own choices - and mistakes - as they set out in life, she must draw on her inner reserves of courage and steadfastness to face what the future holds.