Ellen Melville is a beautiful suffragette who, at seventeen, wants passionately to experience all that life can give her. From her abandoned, impoverished mother she inherits only a capacity for love, which she freely gives when she meets Richard Yaverland – charming, experienced, a man of the world. But Richard is the illegitimate son of a powerful and frustrated woman. Marion Yaverland uses her own betrayal by Richard’s father to imprison her son, creating a murderous bond which destroys everything it touches. The struggles of Ellen and Richard to survive the sins of their fathers takes its inevitable course: giving freely to her passionate lover, Ellen commences a re-enactment of all that has gone before.