Three sisters are growing up in 1920s Bermondsey - the larder of London - with its bustling docks, its spice mill, tannery and factories.
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Southwells jam factory is where many of the girls work. And Milly Colman knows she's lucky. At Southwells she can have a laugh with her mates. She's quick and strong and never misses a day's work. She needs to be. Because at homes things are very different.
The Colman household is ruled by the tyrannical rages of the old man - her father. Often Milly feels she is the only thing protecting her mother and younger sisters from his murderous violence. At least autumn hop-picking in Kent gives all the Colman women a heavenly respite.
But it is here, on one golden September night, that Milly makes the mistake of her life and finds her courage and strength tested as never before.