Set in Liverpool, this is the tale of two sisters, Kate and Jenny Fowler. The girls flee their hated father and head for the glamour of the jazz age. Kate and Jenny glory in their freedom, until romance transforms the tempo.
Enough tears in this family/romance weeper - set in 1922-45 Liverpool - to flood the banks of the Mersey, by the author of the equally damp The Skylark's Song (1984). Handsome Kate and her fragile younger sister, Jenny, have had enough of horrid Dad, who abused their dying mother, bashed his children, and kept the sisters peeling spuds for his fish-and-chips shop, usually outdoors on mornings "so cold it freezes yer bum on the bucket." Off they go, then, to the heart of Liverpool to waitress at the restaurant of heart-of-gold "Waggy" Wagstaffe. Love comes to Kate in the solid person of seaman Charlie, whom she'll marry, while extracting a promise from Charlie that "our Jenny" will always be taken care of. But Jenny is headed for the Love of her Life. Exchanging glances with Norwegian sailor Nils, "she trembled like a flower in a fall of rain." Terrible trials are ahead, however. Nils is prevented from returning to England because of an accident in New York harbor, and Jenny makes a major announcement: "I'm goin' to 'ave a baby, our Kate." Months, years go by and where's Nils? He's searching, searching, and deflected from finding Jenny by a letter from the still-rotten Dad. Will they ever meet? Before the dewy-eyed ending, there'll be a brief business career for Jenny (thanks to Waggy), then poverty again, marriage to spoiled Bill, and hard times for Kate and Charlie. Finally, though, there comes the Day of Meeting: "Like creatures frozen into immovability by the existence of the impossible, they both stood as though turned to stone." Eh! All's well. With dialect as thick as a Lime Street pasty, this is sticky, silly, and somehow likable enough to gorron wi' it just to see the lassies fall on their feet. (Kirkus Reviews)