In 1913, silk mill workers in Paterson, New Jersey, went on strike, demanding an eight-hour work day and better working conditions—reasonable requests that nevertheless led to the arrest of over 1,800 people. Young Eleanor O’Bannion was not arrested, but she was there. Living in the tenements of Paterson, she survived near starvation, poverty, and illness. She survived with the yearnings of love.
Her heart belongs to the charismatic and passionate Dante Ravelli, a union leader, supporting the workers at the Great Silk Strike. But can Eleanor trust him to love her back? Against her better judgment, she decides to marry Charles Lafferty, the wealthy son of a silk baron. Charles is stable, dependable, and safe. So why does she continue to think about the dashing Ravelli?
Eleanor carries her own secret past, and this secret robs her of any happiness as she struggles to look to the future and find fulfilling love with her husband. She has survived so much; she knows she will continue to thrive. Any choice she makes will hurt a man she loves. Who will she choose in the end: Ravelli or Charles—or perhaps, her own liberation?