The book begins with Valentine Jernam, captain of a trading brigantine, and his factotum, the hunchbacked Joyce Harker, together in a seedy London pub. There Jernam hears a girl with a sublime voice entertaining the rough drinkers there and he falls instantly in love. Jernam has come into a good sum of money which he will not entrust to the banks and is foolish enough to let others in the pub know this. The girl is Jenny Milsom and she is the heroine of the story. Her many adventures and sufferings form the body of this Victorian melodrama, very well told by ME Braddon, who deserves to be much better known.