When Amy Kennedy is sent from Lambeth Workhouse to Devon alongside her closest friends, it finally seems like life is taking a turn for the better. But life at the seaside is not the safe haven they'd hoped for.
Hardly out of childhood, Amy Kennedy and fellow orphans Seth, Jay and Daisy are sent from the Lambeth Workhouse in London to the Devon port of Brixham to be taken into service, the girls as maidservants, the boys as apprentices on a trawler. Although her initiation into her job is hard, Amy quickly finds her feet, and shortly her horizons are brightened by an attentive young man, Daniel Newton, the son of a prosperous sea captain. The others fare less well; Daisy is clearly miserable in her work, and, despite Jed’s protection, dreamy Seth founders in the harsh realities of a fisherman’s life.
As time passes Amy grows very worried about Daisy, who, swearing her friend to secrecy, finally confides that she is the powerless victim of her employer’s sexual abuse. Then the tragedy Amy had feared might happen becomes reality - a tragedy which is to have far-reaching repercussions, not only on Daisy but on Seth, Jed and Amy herself....