Lady Rebecca Crawley (aka Becky Sharp), in reduced circumstances and crippled with gout, seeks a publisher for her memoirs. At a gathering of literary and social worthies she encounters a saturnine Thackeray, an enthusiastic Dickens and a sympathetic Elizabeth Gaskell. However, it is young Grub Street journalist Fred Baverstock who pursues her, hungry for details of her love affairs with the notorious Lord Steyne.
When Fred disappears, Becky responds to Elizabeth’s plea that she tell the tale of her birth in Versailles, her experiences of the French Revolution and her convent upbringing. Mrs Gaskell is less than sanguine though with the more explicit details of Becky’s affairs and infidelities. Finally Fred returns, only to be shocked by the most scandalous revelation of all.
However, Elizabeth’s clerical husband, persuades Sir Rawdon (Rawdy) Crawley, Bart, that his mother, Lady Crawley, has been much abused, by Thackeray and others. So, when the ailing Rawdy suggests
that she look after his Park Lane establishment, this naturally accords with Becky’s inclinations and, her gout in abeyance under a new medical regime, she embarks on a fresh round of roguish activities.