Where there's a rulebook, there's a rebel... Ruby McBride has always been on the wrong side of authority. The grand opening of the Manchester Ship Canal is set to be a day of unfettered festivity for Ruby and her younger sister and brother. Even Queen Victoria will be in attendance. But the glories of the ceremony fade into insignificance when their dying mother delivers them to the imposing oak doors of Ignatius House. Abandoned in the not-so-tender care of the nuns, the siblings are soon separated.
Dancing on Deansgate
Where there's community, there's courage... Jess Delaney has always longed for independence. But when the Blitz reaches Manchester, she is locked in the cellar by her feckless mother, Lizzie. As bombs rain down from a sky turned blood red with flame, Jess waits for Lizzie to return. But fortunes are fickle, and soon Jess finds herself packed off to live with her tyrant Uncle Bernie, a bullying black marketeer. Though he treats her like a servant, she seeks refuge in the Sally Army and her natural musical talent offers both an escape route and the chance for love.
The Favourite Child
Where there's daring, there's danger... Isabella Ashton has always been her father's favourite, but when she gets involved with the new Birth Control Movement, he is scandalised. A decade has elapsed since the end of the Great War and running a family planning clinic in Salford is challenging but rewarding work. Bella is grateful for the help of Violet Howarth, a generous-hearted woman who takes her in off the street. Before long, a friendship with Violet's son, Dan, blossoms into the beginnings of love.
The Castlefield Collector
Where there's muck, there's mettle... Dolly Tomkins has always known what it is to live hand to mouth. In the mean streets of a Salford struggling under the mantle of the Great Depression, the only one making a decent living is the talleyman. Though Nifty Jack has a money bag where his heart should be, Dolly's mam is in hock up to her ears and in dire need of assistance. But when Jack offers to wipe the slate clean, Dolly just can't bring herself to trust him.
The Girl From Poor House Lane
In the first years of the twentieth century, the slums of Poor House Lane are no place to bring up a child, and Kate O'Connor struggles to make ends meet when her beloved husband is killed, leaving her a single mother with a baby to support on the meagre hand-outs she gleans from charity. So when the childless Tysons, owners of Kendal's shoe factory, offer to adopt her son, Callum, and employ Kate as his nanny, she seizes the chance to ensure he has a better life.
The Child from Nowhere
After giving birth to her daughter, Kate O'Connor finds herself back in Poor House Lane with some momentous decisions to make. Faced with the opportunity to move out of the slums, she invests her unexpected fortune in a new shoe factory to challenge Eliot Tyson's monopoly over the workforce, regardless of whether or not he is the father of her children.
The Woman from Heartbreak House
The Great War is over and Kate is ready to welcome back Eliot with open arms. But her husband is a changed man. Kate has become used to her independence, and Eliot's return creates tensions both at work and at home, particularly with Kate's son, Callum. It tears Kate apart to see such strife between the two men she loves most.