Fanny McBride was a large, cheerful, indomitable Tyneside widow with a large, cheerful family. When she reached her fifties, she began to feel, for the first time in her life, a little lonely. All but one of her sons and daughters had married and left home, leaving her with spare time on her hands. Being a woman of resource, Fanny took on a job at the local 'Ladies', which was to prove a surprisingly stimulating experience. Another new interest was the arrival of some rather odd neighbours at Malhattan's Hall, the tenement block which was Fanny's home. Then there was her long-standing feud with Mrs Flannagan, the problem of the favourite child's unsuitable marriage, and the puzzle of Fanny's one unmarried son, who was far from being a typical McBride...