When the famous portrait artist Napier Todd stumbles across Edith Hanson scrubbing floors, he is immediately struck by her beauty. Within a few weeks Napier and Edith are married and she moves into his large country house — much to the envy of the other maids. From the outset the marriage is troubled and Edith falls seriously ill. Napier takes her to the idyllic Cornish fishing village of Newbourne to convalesce where Edith meets Celandine.
Celandine Benyon is a struggling artist who moved to Paris to seek inspiration and fell in love with another painter, Sheridan Montague Robertson. The couple eloped to Gretna Green after Celandine was disowned by her mother, and together they set up home in Newbourne.
Celandine tries to help Edith with her marriage. However, although her advice succeeds beyond Edith's wildest dreams, it also causes tragic repercussions. And with the dangerously attractive Alfred Talisman waiting in the wings, it seems that both girls’ happiness may well be ruined.