In 1984 two young mothers meet at a toddler group in Birmingham. As their friendship grows, they share with each other the difficulties and secrets in their lives:
Joanne, a sweet, shy girl, is increasingly afraid of her husband. The lively, promising man she married has become hostile and violent and she is too ashamed to tell anyone. When her mother, Margaret is suddenly rushed into hospital, the bewildered family find that there are things about their mother of which they had no idea. Margaret was evacuated from Birmingham as a child and has spent years avoiding the pain of her childhood – but finds that you can’t run from the past forever.
Sooky, kind and good-natured, has already been through one disastrous marriage and is back at home living with her parents. But being ‘disgraced’ is not easy. Her mother, Meena, refuses to speak to Sooky. At first her silence seems like a punishment, but Sooky gradually realizes it contains emotions which are far more complicated and that her mother may need her help. Meena has spent twenty years trying to fit in with life in Birmingham, and to deal with the conflicts within her between east and west, old ways and new.