A sweeping saga of love, deceit and sacrifice set during the early years of the twentieth century in the farmlands around Narrandera, then a small frontier town in rural south-west New South Wales. The narrative focuses on the Bergman sisters, Jessica, the feisty tomboy who loves to help her father work their farmland, and her beautiful sister, Meg, who is being groomed by her mother, Hester, to be the perfect wife so that she can marry her way out of poverty. However, Richard, the man that Meg has set her sights on, falls in love with Jessica, and they later have a son. Undeterred, Hester schemes to wrench the couple apart so that Meg can claim both Richard and his son. She eventually commits her daughter to a mental asylum, and it is there Jessica receives news of her lover's death and almost loses hope. After enlisting the help of Mr Runche, a down-and-out lawyer battling alcoholism, she is eventually released and, years later, it is the reformed Runche who gives Jessica the courage to fight for the return of her child.