1941, the Isle of Dogs. Neglected by their drunken mother, young Bella Doyle and her brother Terry are left to roam the streets, fending for themselves and skipping school with ease.
When her mother's boyfriend turns violent, Bella finds refuge with Micky Bryant, a local ne'er-do-well.
After the war, Bella marries Micky, helping him run his business as a club owner and manufacturer of illegal hooch.
But with her husband falling ever deeper into a life of crime, Bella finds herself out of her depth as she struggles to stay one step ahead of the law, cope with Micky's increasingly wayward behaviour and control her growing feelings for his elder brother, Ronnie.
It takes a shocking tragedy for Bella to realize that she must seize control of events in order to escape the squalor of the East End and shape her own destiny.