Juliet Granville tries to become self-sufficient, but her story reveals many difficulties of a woman in her friendless situation. Women take advantage of her economically and men importune her. Juliet begins as a musician and slips into the less-reputable positions of milliner and seamstress. Juliet's husband is deported and executed as a spy. The Wanderer is set during the Reign of Terror, exemplified by the rise and fall of Maximilien Robespierre.