Now in her fifties and a grandmother, Rose Hamilton has much to be thankful for in the steady love of her husband John and their relative prosperity. But she is concerned for her children: Sarah, recently widowed, is burdened with grief and worried by signs of trade union discontent in the Sinton family mills. Sam, married to cold, selfish Martha, is struggling to bring up his six children. Only Hannah, happily married and living in England, causes Rose no worry, though she misses her dreadfully. As world events impinge on the family at Ballydown - the sinking of the Titanic and the outbreak of the First World War - Rose and Sarah face new challenges and tragedies in their daily lives.