When seventeen-year-old Ruth Davies' father is invalided out of the Great War, the whole family has little choice but to move to the infamous Tiger Bay area of Cardiff. Not only are they faced with a life of adversity, but Ruth and her mother Caitlin also share a secret, one that no one else must ever know.
Ruth and Caitlin's wages are barely enough to put food on the table let alone pay the rent. And an increasingly neglected young Glynis runs wild. When Caitlin contracts tuberculosis and dies they have no option but to move into an even more squalid neighbourhood.
But Ruth is still determined to keep their secret, at all costs. That is, until their father dies unexpectedly and an ever more desperate Ruth and Glynis find themselves living hand-to-mouth.