Wapping, London, 1873. When Carrie Manning's father dies unexpectedly, her family is plunged into mourning. The curtains are drawn, the clocks stopped and with an increasing feeling of dread, Carrie learns that the family's fortunes have floundered. A life of destitution beckons. Their last ship is lost at sea, and until it finds safe passage, Carrie has no choice but to seek work with the Colvilles, a rival family who reap the rewards from her father's ruin. Dependent on the Colvilles' pity, Carrie becomes a companion to Maria, the youngest granddaughter. But on a quest to help Maria, Carrie unearths devastating secrets between the families.