South London, 1916. Eithne Clay runs a shabby-genteel boarding house while her husband is off at the War. When the dreaded telegram arrives at the house, things turn from difficult to desperate. Then along comes the butcher, Neville Turk, big handsome ladies' man, irresistible for his meat, money and brutish confidence, who throws flighty Eithne into a turmoil but has sinister plans of his own. On the South London home front of World War I, boarding house owner Eithne Clay, her fourteen-year-old son Ralph, her staff, and her tenants suffer their own dramas as the war unfolds.