Born into extreme poverty in the London slums, young Gladys Tunner strives to survive her circumstances, including her alcoholic parents. Desperation and dreams for a better life are constant. Her childhood best friend and protector, Toughie, looks after her until she’s forced to escape into the English countryside, creating an elaborate masquerade that leads to both love and heartbreak.
Under a new identity, Gladys finds work at an inn, first as a housemaid, then later as a barmaid. She gains a dear friend and, eventually, two well-off suitors to choose from. Once married, Gladys enjoys a life of privilege she’d only dared to dream of. But shortly after the birth of her daughter, disaster strikes when Gladys learns that her beloved husband has been killed. With his death, Gladys begins to rely on her new family, but misfortune continues to plague her. Can she survive the capricious hand of fate with her masquerade intact, or will she die as she began, a pauper in the worst of London’s slums?
This rich and compelling novel is a story of true love and longing, both for a new future and the memories of the past. You’ll hope the best for Gladys, no matter which path she takes.