Alice Vavasor should be married to the sensible, kindly John Grey. But despite what her respectable relations might think, Alice cannot quite reconcile herself to this fate. Once upon a time she was engaged to her wild cousin George, and now he stands in need of her money and, perhaps too, her good influence. Meanwhile Alice's friend Lady Glencora has married the rising politician Plantagenet Palliser, but is still pursued by Burgo Fitzgerald, the handsome rascal she loves.
In this hugely compelling novel,Trollope shows the two women struggling to reconcile heart, mind and moral code whilst enduring the stifling scrutiny of their contemporaries.