Jane Deans writes to her grandchildren telling them of all tragedies and triumphs of her life in Scotland and New Zealand between 1839 and 1885. Jane’s determination to uphold standards and Presbyterian values is continuously tested.
Her prospective husband, John Deans, delayed his return visit from New Zealand to Scotland for many years. Jane’s sea journey to New Zealand is marred by continuous sea and pregnancy sickness. Then the joy of the arrival of her first born, John junior, is overtaken by the tragedy of John senior’s death through consumption.
We see her struggling to manage and develop their extensive farms. She endures the realities and challenges of a colonial existence including earthquakes, overseeing the building of a church, visits from royalty and governors, family disputes and the loneliness of widowhood.
John Deans is raised by his doting mother to the age of 21 whereupon John becomes the head of the household and receives his estates.