Dublin, 1898: Hoping to amass a fortune, Captain Charles Whitmore is preparing to set off on a long sea voyage, deliberately leaving his wife Georgina almost penniless to fend for herself and the servants. Georgina, who has been desperate to break free from a life of violent marital abuse, is relieved that he will be gone for some years, but nevertheless the future is frightening. Then help comes from an unexpected quarter: an organisation that helps women escape lives of abuse or genteel poverty makes Georgina an offer. They propose that her house should become a school designed to train women to seek employment in the American Southwest. The very idea is at once shocking and appealing. Can Georgina step into the unknown and lead the women under her care into the future?
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