Fresh out of finishing school, the Honourable Amelia Colinbrooke is a proud young lady of nineteen. She is most decidedly not a giddy girl, and neither is her slightly younger cousin, Clara. When the two young ladies arrive at Hope Hall to stay with their Aunt Alicia and Uncle Alex, Amelia is, therefore, appalled to find herself consigned to the nursery. Here the pretty cousins learn that it has been ordained that they spend the summer, subject to a strict disciplinary regime. As Amelia bridles under the rigours of nursery discipline, Lord Alex and Lady Alicia visit the Hatherby Reformatory to augment their staff, and Emma Swift soon finds herself despatched to the infamous Hope Hall. Like the other maids whose destiny it is to serve the masters of that ancient place, Emma is taught to dance to the rhythm of birch and leather, for beaten out of nubile flesh, the tune of birch and leather is the music of Hope Hall.