1939. Life has not been easy for sixteen year old Sally Turner, or her much younger, crippled brother, Ernie. Their feckless mother, Florrie, has all but abandoned them now war has been declared, and the pubs and dance-halls of the East End of London are crowded with service-men – and their beloved father, Harry is at sea with the Atlantic convoys. Sally has no choice but to accompany Ernie when he is evacuated to the south coast of England.
The sights, sounds and scents of the East End are all she has ever known, and as the familiar landmarks are replaced by open countryside, Sally is as fearful as her little brother – but she must keep her dread to herself, for he depends upon her to keep him safe.
Their arrival in Cliffehaven realises all Sally’s worst fears, for it seems no-one wants to take in a child crippled by polio, and the only option is for Ernie to be placed in an orphanage. Sally defies the authorities and refuses to be separated from him.
Sally and Ernie are rescued by Peggy Reilly, the owner of Beach View Boarding House. It is in this warm, welcoming home that Sally and Ernie discover love, comfort and the true meaning of family. And then Florrie turns up, and Sally’s security and new-found self-belief is endangered.
But as 1940 brings the horrors of Dunkirk, and enemy bombing-raids to Cliffehaven, it is clear to everyone that Sally and the children must be evacuated to Wales. Sally is distraught, for it will mean leaving behind the people she’s come to love, and the fledgling home dressmaking business that is beginning to flourish. But hardest of all, it will mean never seeing John Hicks again – and never to know why he seems so determined to break her heart with his coldness.