To Mrs Porter's establishment - a Home away from Home for Homeless Gentlemen - comes Thomas Dalton, recently and reluctantly returning to the community. Dalton is intent on a fresh start. So is Miss Emily Vales, fellow lodger, and recipient of Mrs Porter's tea-leaves predictions...
Across the park from Dalton's cold, bleak room is the large, overdraped house of his childhood, where now another Consul's family lives. Intrigued and well-meaning, they welcome him into the house, unaware of Dalton's past links - and his yearnings.