In the New Year of 1936, Gwen Purdy, aged 21, leaves her home to become a schoolteacher in a poor area of Birmingham. Her early weeks are an eye-opener, facing a class of 52 children, some of whose homes are among Birmingham's very poorest. But she soon begins to understand the appalling hardships endured by the children as she is drawn into their lives. Through little Lucy, Gwen meets Daniel Fernandez, falls in love and is quickly engaged in his battle to win rights for the working classes. As the Brigades are mobilized to fight the Spanish Civil War, Gwen realises that Daniel has secrets in his past which she would rather not face up to . . .