Warning: wikipedia contains spoilers
The hero, Mark Robarts, is a young vicar, newly arrived in the village of Framley. This "living" has come into his hands through his friendship with Lord Ludovic Lufton, who introduces him into high society, but his new friends get him into trouble. Mark's sister, Lucy, is proposed to by Lord Ludovic, but her mother is against the marriage. She later relents, and Lord Ludovic helps Mark to escape from the disreputable company into which he has fallen.
Characters from the other Barsetshire novels, such as Bishop and Mrs Proudie, also appear in the book.