When good-for-nothing Bill dies in a fire of his own drunken making, it is a bit of relief for wife Joan. Behind on the rent, scraping a few pennies together for food, at least now she is free from his physical abuse. With the support of sister Martha, Joan finds a housekeeping job in Kent which puts her on her feet. The household is a friendly one, albeit demanding in quality and amount of work. But soon Joan's talents as a seamstress come to light and she is frequently taken away from the drudgery of cleaning to the delights of sewing.
When her employer dies, leaving her 200 guineas, Joan has a chance to set out on her own and manages to rent a shop from which she starts a dressmaking business. And then she meets the charismatic and romantic Eric - but he seems to have a bit of a past and often disappears for weeks on end. Is he a good man — or is he to be avoided?