Spring 1944. A group of GIs arrive in Columbine, causing a stir amongst the local young women. Kerry Penfold's sweetheart, Tom, is a serving soldier, so she is content to watch as her best friend Claire becomes smitten with a handsome American. But when charming Marvin Mcleod receives a Dear John letter from his girlfriend, it is Kerry's shoulder he cries on. When D-day arrives, the GIs suddenly depart but the war has left its casualties and the village is grieving for its losses.
A rags-to-riches story with a delightfully original spin, Not All Tarts Are Apple is narrated by seven-year-old Rosie, who grows up in a cafe in 1950s Soho, watched over by her eagle-eyed Auntie Maggie and Uncle Bert, and visited on occasions by her mother, the mysterious, and often drunk, Perfumed Lady. But it soon transpires that the Perfumed Lady's family - landed gentry who hail from a country estate near Bath - are desperate to get their hands on Rosie, and will stop at nothing - even kidnap - to acquire her.
It is 1945, and all over England people are looking forward to being at peace again. Except for one woman. For recently married Zelda, peace means the return of her husband, and this is bad news indeed. Zelda has had to marry Charlie Fluck because she was pregnant by him. And the Fluck clan are backed by the unsavoury Holes, at the centre of whose criminal empire sits Ma Hole like a large malevolent toad. Not only is Zelda frightened of her husband - and she has reason to be, having lost her baby due to a bad "fall" when Charlie pushed her down the stairs.