Life for Maisie Jackson has been far from happy for a number of years - ever since her mother re-married after her beloved father's death, and her new stepfather and stepbrother moved into their small terraced house in Armley, Leeds. Suffering abuse at her cruel stepbrother's hand, and mercilessly tormented by her stepfather, Maisie dreams of escaping to a new life far away. And it seems her dreams are about to come true...It is 1939 and war is suddenly looming dark on the horizon. For many, with memories of the 'war to end all wars' still fresh in their minds, this is a horrific and frightening prospect. But for nine-year-old Maisie, it represents her longed-for chance of freedom - maybe she'll be evacuated to the countryside, to one of the places her father used to tell her about? As the small market town of Middlebeck in the Yorkshire dales prepares for the arrival of the evacuees, many of the villagers ponder on how they will cope with this sudden influx of visitors. But they are all determined to pull together and welcome the strangers with open arms, eager to 'do their bit' for the war effort. In this time of trouble, when life suddenly seems so precious and vulnerable, true and lasting friendships are formed and love blossoms as the dark cloud of war eventually clears to the bright blue sky of a hopeful future.