When Harriet, a working-class girl who, with her friend Mary has left her coastal job of collecting and gutting fish, stops on a bridge in her newly adopted home in York, she is approached by an upper-class gentleman. Samuel is a Quaker, a good soul, and a man interested in the new science of photography. He also collects photographs of working-class girls in their working clothes. Samuel invites the girls to come to his friend's studio. While Mary is almost instantly lost to the art of photography, Harriet, a sturdier sort, goes on to get a job in the Quaker-owned Wetherby's Chocolate Factory. She soon catches the eye of a young clerk who is one of the favourites of the owners and through him discovers the deadly rivalry between the chocolate-makers. Samuel is also taken with the young Harriet, though because of class, he watches her from afar, until his sister - 'mad Grace' locked away in an asylum - becomes part of their mutual story. Set in York in the early 1900s, The Sweetest Thing is a true Victorian novel with a large cast and wonderfully intriguing subplots, set at a moment of great social change.