This early novel has a memorable Scottish setting in the southern Border region, near the Firth of Solway. Adam Graeme, laird of Mossgray, writes the first volume in his own voice, remembering his youth and its sadnesses and betrayals.
The final two volumes, written in the third person, take place in the next generation. Adam continues to be part of the story; but the focus shifts to others, especially to two young women, Lilias and Helen, each with her own heavy burden to bear. Both have experienced poverty, loss of social caste, and the necessity to work. We follow their struggles and sorrows, trusting to Mrs Oliphant to provide at least some happy endings! This early novel is very sad, but beautifully told.