When Tom Brangwen marries Lydia Lensky, a Polish widow, her past is always between them. Yet Tom forms a powerful bond with his step-daughter Anna, a wilful, independent child, and they enjoy a tumultuous relationship until the time of her marriage to Will Brangwen. Anna and Will's oldest child is Ursula who grows to resent her family; she despises her younger brothers and sisters except Gudrun and often despises herself. She sees the love offered to her by Skrebensky, the army officer as a threat to her own individuality and her power to make her own way in the world. It soon becomes apparent to Ursula that if she is to break the bonds of convention she has a bitter struggle to undergo.