When Madeleine Bates, ex-parlourmaid and daughter of a Yorkshire millhand, married the young French wool baron, Leon Bonneau, it seemed as though her life of turmoil was over. They knew they had struggles of a practical nature ahead of them - trying to build the bankrupt mill into a new and thriving business - but Madeleine felt that, providing everything was right between her and Leon, they could face whatever lay ahead. But trouble and disruption were still to be part of her future - for Leon's family in France bitterly resented the Yorkshire girl who had taken their son away from them. And Hortense Murer, who had thought she would be Leon's wife, resented her even more. And over all hung the shadow of a foolish curse made by her old enemy, Sophia Parkinson - that Madeleine would never bear a son - a curse that, against all the tenets of common sense, seemed to be coming true.