Ruth is 16 and a lonely orphan when she is seduced by upper class man. When he becomes ill, his mother takes him home and forces him to break all ties with Ruth. Soon afterwards, she discovers she is going to have a baby. A kind minister takes her home with him and she becomes part of his family. Mr. Benson and his sister agree to say Ruth is recently widowed. As Ruth grows spiritually, she tries to become a good mother to her son and a humble servant. She is hired as a governess to a very arrogant Pharisee, Mr. Bradstreet. When he discovers that she has an illegitimate son, he throws her out of his house and refuses to allow her son to play with his children. Ruth finally finds work as a nurse amongst the poor, where her reputation grows.Ruth is actually the most uninteresting character in the book. Sally, the Benson's servant, Mr. Bradstreet, the arrogant and self-righteous manufacturer, his daughter, Jemima and even Mr. Benson and his sister were so clearly portrayed that I felt I knew them.The main problem was the publishing house. They must not have hired proofreaders, since the text had innumerable errors. The word "had" was usually written as "bad." Many paragraphs were written as one, with several people speaking and only one quotation mark at the beginning of the paragraph. Just trying to decipher who was speaking was difficult. I also found the first few chapters slow and uninteresting, but once Ruth found herself pregnant, the story picked up and became more enjoyable.