Bermondsey, 1920s: After her mother's death, Kate is taken in by her father's sister, the quick-tempered Aunt Sylvie. Already struggling to feed children of her own, Aunt Sylvie treats Kate like an unwanted burden. Although Kate's father disappeared when she was a child, she still harbors hope that he will one day reappear and release her from this miserable existence. If only she knew why he left and what really happened to her mother.One day, after a terrible argument, 18-year-old Kate is thrown out. Desperate to land on her own two feet, she answers an advert for a cleaner at The Bermondsey Bookshop and Reading Room. Little does she know that her life is about to be changed forever.In this cozy shop in Bermondsey Street, owned by a wealthy, idealistic young woman, Kate's eyes are opened to a whole new world. The bookshop is a vibrant meeting place for the local factory workers and dockers, and the free reading room is a place where they can read in peace and attend lectures by the famous literary lights of the day. Here Kate rubs shoulders with Johnny "Rasher" Bacon, the docker who goes to read Marx, and Martin Cliffe, the handsome, upperclass student who comes to hear H.G. Wells speak.But when Kate recognizes a stranger from her past, can she be sure that he is all that he seems? And will she be true to her roots and pick the fiery young Docker "Rasher" Bacon? Or can the handsome young scholar Martin Cliffe persuade Kate that love can bridge the gulf between their two worlds?