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San Francisco in the 1890s is a town of contradictions. Lizzie Hayes, a docile, middle-aged spinster, is praised for her volunteer work with the Ladies' Relief and Protection Society Home. When the wealthy but ill-reputed Mary Ellen Pleasant shows up with an orphan in tow, Lizzie is drawn to them both. For it is the beautiful Mrs Pleasant, object of suspicion because of her rumoured voodoo practise, who holds the key to freeing Lizzie's rebellious nature.