The Millar family live next door to the Riettis on Ginger Street, a row of Victorian tenements on Edinburgh's south side but their circumstances couldn't be more different. Ruth Millar would like to stay on at school but her father's salary as a grocer's assistant is barely enough to put food on the table, let alone such luxuries as an education. By contrast the Riettis own the local corner shop and a little cafe at the end of Ginger Street. Yet despite the differences in their wealth and background this doesn't stop Ruth and her sister Sylvie becoming friends with the Rietti children, Marilena and Nicco. Ruth's father dreams of one day owning his own business. Meanwhile Ruth secretly dreams of Nicco Rietti. But not only is Nicco older, he is Italian and Catholic, three things which make him out of bounds for Ruth, especially with the threat of war on the horizon...