September 1940 - the cruellest year of war for Britain's civilians as the Luftwaffe mercilessly blitz their cities. In Pearl Street, near Liverpool's docks, families struggle to cope the best they can. A nasty surprise for ever-cheerful dressmaker Brenda Mahon, and flighty Sean's love for little Alice, show how life goes on even when it appears to be falling apart. Yet while Eileen Costello tries to hide her ruined hopes of happiness with Nick, and do her best by the husband she hoped had gone for ever, Ruth Singerman returns, having escaped from Austria. Even the joy of seeing her father again cannot make up for the bitter loss of her children.