The book starts with an elderly Emma flying to New York with her personal assistant and favourite grandchild, Paula. She has trained Paula to be her successor, both as the head of Harte Stores and as representative of her mother, Daisy Amory, at Sitex.On their arrival in New York, Emma's secretary, Gaye, tells her she heard Emma's sons discussing a plan to force her to retire and break up her empire so the pieces can be sold.The women become good friends, Emma moves in, and Laura gets her a job at Thompson's Mill.In March, Emma has a daughter and names her Edwina.
A Woman of Substance was adapted as an eponymous television miniseries as were the sequels Hold The Dream and To Be The Best.
Emma's business continues to expand, with Emma going into business with the Kallinskis.
Unfortunately, her private life doesn't run as smoothly.
After the death of his mother, Winston joins the navy, as he had wanted to since he was a child.
As parlour maid, Emma sees a lot of the Fairley family and becomes friends with the younger son, Edwin. Emma also meets Blackie O'Neill, a wandering Irish navvy who has been hired to do some work at Fairley Hall, and they become fast friends.
He introduces her to his wife, Janessa, and sons, David and Victor.