Ruby is always hungry, but she will go without if it means her young brothers can eat. 1930s Bermondsey might be called the larder of London, with its pie, pickle and jam factories, but for the poor working classes, starvation is often only a heartbeat away.
When Ruby's neighbour suggests she ought to go to the Methodist Mission for free food, Ruby knows her father will be furious, but that she has no other option.
It is a decision that will change the course of her life forever, split her family and in the end lead her to face a terrible choice between duty and a great love.
Three very different women struggle to make their way against incredible hardship in post-war South London.
Hattie, a rising star in the ATS, finds herself relegated to the factory floor on her return from the war. Her work mates are unforgiving at Hattie's attempt to raise herself up and she is soon ostracised. After journeying across the world to Australia to marry her husband, Clara is betrayed and returns penniless, homeless and trying to raise a child in the face of prejudice. Lou, a war widow, has lost more than most in the war. Her daughter and parents are dead, killed in a bomb blast on an air raid shelter. By day, she works at the factory, by night she roams the bombsites half mad with grief.
These women will forge a bond that will ultimately allow each of them to overcome crippling grief, harsh prejudice and post-war deprivation to find hope in a better tomorrow for themselves and their children.
Heartwarming and gritty, the story of a factory girl in Bermondsey through World War 1.
They call them custard tarts - the girls who work at the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory. But now the custard tarts are up in arms, striking for better conditions. Among them is Nellie Clark, trying to hold her family together after the death of her mother. She has the most desperate struggle to make ends meet, often going hungry to feed her little brothers.
Two men vie for Nellie's love. One is flamboyant, confident and a chancer. The other is steady, truthful and loyal. But the choice is not as easy as it might seem.
Looming over them all - over Bermondsey, over the factory, over the custard tarts and their lives and loves - is the shadow of the First World War. And that will change everything and everyone.
Three sisters are growing up in 1920s Bermondsey - the larder of London - with its bustling docks, its spice mill, tannery and factories.
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.
A Bermondsey factory girl joins the fight against Hitler, in the wonderful new novel from the bestselling author of CUSTARD TARTS AND BROKEN HEARTS.
May Lloyd's father calls her his homing pigeon because of her uncanny knack of navigating her way around the streets of South London - even in pitch darkness. It is a gift that will save her life when the Blitz destroys nearly everything that she holds dear.
With her home in ruins, May joins the ATS - the women's branch of the British Army - and becomes a gunner girl, operating Ack Ack guns against the Luftwaffe. Meanwhile, her sister Peggy makes a daring bid to escape a stifling marriage and find love and freedom amid the heady chaos of war.
Frank Rossi promised Matty the world. The Cockney Canary would become a world famous movie star. As his wife, she would be one half of a power couple, feted and adored by all. But the Wall Street crash puts paid to that and as Frank becomes more violent and unstable, Matty knows she must escape and so she flees at dead of night.
Once home in Bermondsey, she goes into hiding and starts desperately looking for work. But only the hated biscuit factory, Peek Frean's, is hiring. Then, as a secret from her past comes back to hurt her, Matty learns that Frank is on the move, determined to find her and get her back.