Jane Sinclair is the daughter of Angus and Matilda Sinclair, who have a farm bordering on the New Forest in Hampshire. The story depicts life in 1850 England.
Whilst picking blackberries in the New Forest, she meets Charles, the son of Sir Richard Cholmondelay, pronounced Chumley. Sir Richard threatens to ruin her family should she persist with this liaison. She runs away to London hoping to avoid a catastrophe where she ends up in dire straits. She is befriended by an avuncular figure, Bob, who finds her work in a flower shop, the owner of which dies and leaves all to Jane.
It depicts the struggles of a young woman against adversity who ends up owning two garment factories, in spite of opposition to her ideas on the advancement of women.
Reunited with Charles, she moves to Fordingbridge Hall. Charles decides to have one last fling before marrying and sails to Algiers together with the new Head of Mission. The boat is lost, and Charles and the son of the owner are captured by slavers and held for ransom. Jane, hearing of his supposed loss, falls into a coma, where she is force-fed by her maid.
Charles fights his way to freedom, and all ends well.
This is not a romantic book. It has romance in it. It depicts the struggle of a young woman of the time who fights against prejudice and ingrained misogyny. On one occasion, when her factory outlets are closed to her by the opposition, she is assisted by Mrs. Goulden, the mother of Emmeline Pankhurst, and her suffragettes. Her workforce, unbeknown to her, takes a day off without pay to mount a protest outside the shops.
Jane joins them and informs the reporters, “This is the sort of loyalty that you can expect when you treat your workers like human beings and not like animals.”
When first inspecting her new acquisition, she insisted on seeing the WC’s against advice.
“Sir, if they are not suitable for me, then they are not suitable for the workers.”
There are many twists to this story that cannot be described in three hundred words.
The English attaché who turns spy in order to discover where Charles is being held—of the English crew of a freighter who affect his release. The old sea captain who befriends her and of those who would break her. It is a story of many parts.