For the inhabitants of Liverpool’s Milton Street a steady income and a roof over their heads are luxuries. The Ryan family have barely grown accustomed to such things when a fire destroys their father Jack’s modest coal haulage business, leaving Jack broken and his family facing ruin. They’re forced to turn to Conor, Jack’s brother from Ireland, a man whose noisy joviality seventeen-year-old Ellen Ryan suspects hides a mean viciousness.
She’s right, and with her mother sick and her half-sister Annie becoming increasingly feckless, it’s down to Ellen to fight Conor’s tyranny. But when Annie disappears, leaving her baby on their doorstep, Ellen begins fear for herself and for the life of the innocent child she has learnt to love…