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1945 - the war in Europe is over. Most women can't wait for their men to return, but in the small town of Rivenshaw in Lancashire, Judith Crossley fears having her husband back in the house. He'd grown into a bully and a drunkard, and on the occasions he'd come home from leave, he'd hit her.
He wasn't a good father either - when their eldest daughter Kitty won a prestigious scholarship to the private girls' grammar school, Doug had tried to stop her going, saying it would turn her into a snob. Luckily Judith had help from an unlikely ally - Maynard Esher, from an old aristocratic family on the other side of town - but Judith knows that when her husband returns, she'll be blamed for letting Kitty take up her school place. She decides that for the children's sake, she must leave her husband. But with the house rented in his name, and other accommodation scarce, where on earth can they go?
Helen Bretherton is returning from being a Land Girl in Wiltshire. Her great-aunt has left her a house bordering the park in Rivenshaw, but it was partly bombed and is in a poor condition. Still, she decides to camp out in it, if it's at all habitable, because she has nowhere else to go. However, when she arrives, she finds a displaced Polish man is already living there . . .
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