PRESENT DAY DUBLIN
Lucy Young travels to Dublin to search for her ancestor Hugh Gavin who emigrated from Dublin to Boston in 1720. She brings with her a 300- year-old diary written by the Duchess of Alden of Boden Castle, Dublin. When Lucy contacts Professor Patrick Ralley of Trinity College Dublin to donate the Alden diary to the university, she asks for his help to research Hugh Gavin s life and her family s possible connection to the castle. In their search they will uncover a secret that has lain hidden for three hundred years.
Abigail Harton s father is a medical doctor who has used the last of his family s savings to fund a charitable hospital in the city. He has saved the lives of the wife and son of the Duke of Alden in childbirth and hopes that the Duke will provide an annuity to support his work.
Meanwhile Abigail and her mother must use their considerable talent at embroidery to provide for the household, and Abigail designs an emerald-silk damask cloth for weaver Hugh Gavin. She also accepts work from Hugh s sister Mary to embroider a dress made from the cloth, which has been commissioned by Miss Elizabeth Goulding to be worn at the upcoming Duke of Alden s Ball at Boden Castle.
But an event occurs at Boden Castle the night of the ball that will lie secret for the next three hundred years, until Lucy and the Professor uncover the secret of the emerald dress.