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Patsy Kent is just fourteen when her beloved mother Ellen dies of consumption in November 1918. The pregnant but unmarries Ellen fled her respectable family and landed up in Tooting, desperate to find somewhere to live and a place to work. Thus she found Florrie Holmes’ place in Strathmore Street. Patsy, born there, has grown up surrounded by loving people who more than compensate for the lack of a family.

On her mother’s death Patsy gets a job in the same market where Ellen had worked. At sixteen she is pretty and innocent, so when she meets the gipsy Johnny Jackson at a fair she is bowled over. Hop-picking in Kent with the Jackson clan tarnishes her illusions but then Patsy becomes pregnant and the ill-suited pair marry. Divorce isn’t on for people like her; when she really falls in love, with kind Eddie Owen, it looks as if she must stay shackled to the feckless Johnny . . .