In the 1930s, Emma Pearson and her family offered a rural holiday to two orphaned children. Despite being unable to adopt John and Tommy as their own, the Pearsons stayed in touch over the years, treating them as family.
Barbara's first chance comes in 1945. A barrister's daughter, she runs away to marry her sailor sweetheart in secret, ignoring her parent's disapproval. When the marriage falls violently apart, she returns home and tries to rebuild her life. Then a second chance of happiness comes her way.
"A Sad Story"
Flame-haired beauty Chloe Collard watched her mother struggle through life, scraping together pennies in order to provide for her and her brothers, so Chloe promised herself something a long time ago: she would get a proper education and make something of herself. This vow would carry Chloe through her entire life. When Chloe is offered a job as a personal assistant in a prestigious firm, she finally feels that her hard work is paying off.
Set in the East End of London and in Surrey, Time Will Tell opens towards the end of World War II, during an air-raid. Joan gives birth to a son just as a bomb hits the hospital. The electricity is cut, and panic and pandemonium ensue, but this is nothing compared to the anguish Joan will suffer in the following years. For in the aftermath of confusion, her baby son is miss-tagged with another baby boy, a fact that only comes to light 20 years later.
London 1964. Patsy Kent, now a mother, grandmother, and even great-grandmother, is discovering that it is her family who give her the most pleasure in life, but also the most pain. Her children, Ellen and David, are both going through difficult times with their marriages. The next generation is also giving Patsy cause for concern: Frances, her only granddaughter, may be enjoying the nightlife of the swinging 60s, but it is about to land her in a whole heap of tragedy and trouble.
Carla Scofield has looked after her family since she was a teenager, but it's never been a bother because there isn't anything she wouldn't do for those closest to her. Warm, friendly, and with the ability to make everyone around her laugh, she carries her burden proudly. As the years roll past, Carla sees life around her change dramatically. Wartime brings new challenges and a new job for Carla in a sewing factory, and she shines.
Linked through marriage to three brothers, the Underwood women prove time and again that they are a force to be reckoned with. Jodie has travelled a hard road to reach her own prosperity, despite her husband's constant unreliability. Yet she can't bring herself to fully sever ties with John. But now with a potential new love waiting nearby, Jodie must make a decision she has been avoiding for too long. Widowed at a young age, Lariane believes her marriage to Rick was perfect.
John, Rick, and Derrick Underwood are the most handsome trio of brothers in town and it takes three exceptional women to convince them to settle down. For Jodie, marrying John seemed exciting and romantic at the time, but the reality of life is proving too much. Jodie loves her husband, but she doesn't know how much more she can take of his dishonest ways. Rick's marriage to Laraine is filled with love and adventure; their life is blissful - until one day it delivers a cruel blow. Everything begins to unravel and Laraine isn't sure she's strong enough to survive.
Spirited Paula O'Brien wants to escape her family home and start a new life, but is scared of defying her abusive father. He had her put away in an asylum as a child and he threatens her with the same treatment if she disobeys him now. When she sees a newspaper advert for a live-in nanny, her best friend persuades her to apply. When grieving widower Jeffrey Lawson invites Paula to an interview, she doesn't realise it will change her life forever. And Jeffrey doesn't expect to meet a woman like Paula.
In 1951 London thrills to the Festival of Britain, but not Evie Smith. Mistress to Ted Hopkins, marriage is still just a dream. Ted is resigned to caring for his bed-ridden wife, only ever briefly seeing Evie and their two girls. Then, just as Evie finds she is pregnant, Ted takes his wife abroad for new treatment. After five years with no word, Evie selflessly brings up her daughters. But she may yet find her chance of lasting happiness.
When Janey has to leave her home after her stepfather beats her up, she finds herself in a children's home. She soon settles in, and the friends she makes become her new family. But at 16, Janey has to leave the home and is found a job as a housemaid. She feels abandoned again and the job is awful. Her situation doesn't improve until she meets Christy, a blind woman, and is employed as her companion. When Janey meets Christy's son, Charles, she falls in love with him. But alas, Charles is married.
Ella has lived in the East End of London all her life and when her husband determines to move to Epsom to be near the racecourse he frequents and loves, Ella's refusal to join him breaks up their tempestuous marriage. Ella soon loses the will to keep smart, trim, and fit: until her mother steps in to pick up the pieces. It works: Ella gets a job as barmaid in the British Legion club and begins to take pride in her appearance again. When Dennis turns up for a drink one night, he is taken by surprise.
Like most in London's 1920s East End, Joan Baldwin has her crosses to bear. Her greatest by far is her husband: a violent drinker and gambler. When he perishes, Joan is surprised by her sudden freedom. She finds a housekeeping job in Kent, and when her employer dies, leaving her 200 guineas, Joan is able to start her own dressmaking business. Then she meets Eric Roussel, a charismatic businessman, and it looks like happiness will finally be hers. But is he a little too slick to be trusted?
It is 1930, and the sleepy Hampshire village where Emma Pearson lives with her husband and two daughters is untouched by the Depression. When the villagers are asked to offer a rural holiday to orphaned children from the poorest parts of London, they welcome the opportunity to share their good fortune. John and Tommy, two lads from the charity orphanage, come to stay with the Pearsons for a holiday in the countryside.