Compilation of seven of Catherine Cookson's most popular novels in feature-length TV adaptations. In 'The Cinder Path', after an unhappy childhood on his father's farm, Charlie MacFell (Lloyd Owen) marries the beautiful Victoria Chapman (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Happiness still eludes him, however, as his wife indulges in a series of adulterous affairs. Fighting at the front in the First World War, Charlie discovers a new strength within himself, winning the respect of his men. But when he returns home Charlie finds himself falling in love with his wife's younger sister. In 'The Man Who Cried', Abel Mason (Ciaran Hinds) is a man wracked with guilt, who leaves his wife for a married woman after a series of adulterous betrayals. When tragedy strikes, Abel builds a new life and finds new love, but can his son Dick keep his father's secret? In 'The Round Tower', seventeen-year-old Vanessa Ratcliffe (Emilia Fox) rebels against her wealthy middle-class parents by embarking on an affair with Angus Cotton (Ben Miles), a worker at her father's Newcastle engineering works. When Vanessa becomes pregnant, the repercussions rock her family. In 'The Tide of Life', a young girl blossoms quickly into womanhood through tough and tender relationships with three different men. In 'Colour Blind', Bridget McQueen (Niamh Cusack) causes familial uproar when she returns home with a black husband (Tony Armatrading). Their problems intensify with the birth of their mixed-race child, Rose Angela, who, in turn, struggles to make her way in the world against overwhelming odds. However, a chance encounter with a stranger changes the course of her life forever. In 'A Dinner of Herbs', in 19th century Northumberland, Roddy Greenbank's (Jonathan Kerrigan) father meets a violent end shortly after he arrives to live with him. Roddy is taken in by his father's close friend Kate Makepeace (Billie Whitelaw), and forges strong bonds with locals Hal (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Mary Ellen (Melanie Clark Pullen). However, as they get older, the friendship between the trio comes under increasing pressure, as Roddy's artistic ambitions and Hal's vengeful nature lead to conflict between the pair. Finally, in 'The Gambling Man', Rory Connor (Robson Green) feels trapped by the slums of South Shields and decides to gamble his way out of poverty.