Jane Carter is a young girl hoping to get a job in Tidsley so she can move out of her stepmother’s house. While her father was alive, she was educated and cherished, but since the age of 15, she’s only been tolerated in her home. In front of Chadwick’s shop, she sees a sign posted for a shop girl. This would be a good opportunity for her, because Chadwick’s is the best draper in Tidsley. And, as she is of genteel appearance, she is hired.
She is excited to get the job, although she slowly realizes its problems. The room above the shop where she must live is not very nice, but it seems fine to her, and her roommate, Maggie, is friendly. However, Mrs. Chadwick skimps on the girls’ food, and Mr. Chadwick sometimes cheats her out of her commission, taking it for himself. Worse, though, is his caution at change in the shop. Jane finds she is good at her job and has ideas that will make money, but Chadwick often won’t let her try them.
A difficulty she isn’t aware of, as Maggie and her young man, Wilfred, invite her out with them every Sunday, is that Wilfred is falling in love with her. She, herself, is attracted by a young man named Noel Yarde, but he is above her in class. Then, lives change as World War I begins.
This novel has an appealing heroine, naïve yet practical, and not to be beaten down. Its realistic portrait of the times, particularly as they change over a period of about eight years, is interesting. The flavor of the northern town, with its grimness and social barriers, is interesting, too. As usual with Whipple,, I enjoyed this novel very much.