Margaret Prior, an unmarried woman from an upper-class family, visits the Millbank Prison in 1870s Victorian-era England. Recovering from her father's death and her subsequent failed suicide attempt, and struggling with her lack of power living at home with her over-involved mother despite being almost 30, she becomes a "Lady Visitor" of the prison, hoping to escape her troubles and be a guiding figure in the lives of the female prisoners. As she peers through a flap in the door, entranced by the sight of a young woman with a flower, she is reminded of a Carlo Crivelli painting. Of all the prisoners, she is most fascinated by this woman, whom she learns to be Selina Dawes, medium of spirits.
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