Widow Dashwood and her three unmarried daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, inherit only a tiny allowance. So they move out of their grand Sussex home to a more modest cottage in Devonshire. There, the prevailing ambition is to find suitable husbands for the girls. With help from wealthy neighbor Sir John Middleton, suitors for Elinor and Marianne are soon found, but not landed. They include dashing Willoughby, future vicar Edward Ferrars and retired colonial gentleman Colonel Brandon.