Although there is never any money in the house, Molly McBride makes sure that her three children are rich in love and affection. And when she realises that she is terminally ill, she arranges for Ruby, Billy and Pearl to be taken in at Ignatius House, the local orphanage. Ruby is a rebel at heart and often in trouble with the strict nuns, though always because she is fiercely protecting her younger siblings from bullying and the harsh regime. When she is sixteen, she is forced to marry, but vows to get back Billy and Pearl once she has made a settled home. Convinced that her new husband, who works on a barge on the Manchester Ship Canal, is a conman, Ruby resists his advances and longs for her childhood sweetheart, Kit. In fact, Bart is a good man, trying to improve the conditions of working men and eventually - after many heartbreaks - Ruby comes to realise this. She is also forced to accept that sister Pearl is a bad lot, and that Billy has found a new life in Canada, so can't hope to recreate the family in quite the way she once promised her mother.
Freda Lightfoot was born and brought up in the mill towns of Lancashire. She has been a teacher, bookseller and smallholder but began her writing career by publishing over forty short stories and articles and five historical romances under a different name. Having lived for many years in the Lake District and also in Cornwall, she now tries to divide her time between the two.