Margaret Hale is a southerner from a country vicarage newly settled in the industrial northern town of Milton. In the shock of her move, she misjudges charismatic cotton mill-owner John Thornton, whose strength of purpose and passion are a match for her own pride and willfulness. When the workers of Milton call a strike, Margaret takes their side, and the two are brought into deeper conflict. As events spiral out of control, Margaret - to her surprise - begins to fall in love with Thornton.
Beautiful, funny, passionate, and calculating, Becky is the orphaned daughter of a starving English artist and a French chorus girl. She yearns for a more glamorous life than her birthright promises and resolves to conquer English society by any means possible. A mere ascension into the heights of society is simply not enough. So Becky finds a patron in the powerful Marquess of Steyne whose whims enable Becky to realise her dreams. But is the ultimate cost too high for her?