Now that Elinor and Marianne are married, sixteen-year-old Margaret Dashwood is next, according to the teasing Sir John Middleton and his mother-in-law Mrs. Jennings. A young woman of no fortune and little to recommend her, however, Margaret’s romantic notions are limited.
On holiday to Bath with her mother, Margaret befriends Miss Barbara Spooner, the future wife of the eminent Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce. Unlike Margaret’s silly friends the Carey sisters, Barbara cares about things of substance, such as religion, the education of the poor, and the abolition of slavery.
On the way home, Margaret and her family visit Whitwell, the beautiful estate of Colonel Brandon’s relations, the Talleyrands. They are a most agreeable family, except for the bothersome son, Benjamin, who teases her mercilessly.
Unexpected events take Margaret away from Devonshire, leading her into the center of fashionable London society, to her childhood home of Norland Park and to the seaside town of Brighton. Finally, into the wild beauty and terrible poverty of Cheddar Gorge, where Margaret gains a wider view of the world.