This is the prequel to the Campbell family saga. Anna Campbell, a Leith 'worthy' in the full sense of the word, never turns anyone away from her door. The condemned tenement is the home to many families in dire poverty and Anna, known as a 'wise-woman', hatches and dispatches and treats all minor ailments for her friends. She dedicates her life to raising six children, four boys and two girls who are not her own. The girls, Rachel and Bella, remain with her into adulthood and despite her care she is horrified when fifteen-year-old Bella becomes pregnant by Gus, someone she had given shelter to in his hour of need.
Gus skips the country and is hotly pursued across the world and made to return to marry Bella. The bane of Anna's life is the ne'er-do-weel Gabby, Rachel's father. Little does she realise that her continuing desire for revenge against him will have such a devastating effect on Rachel and also the rest of the family. The story covers an eighteen-year period from 1908.
The families struggle to cope with daily life but there are bigger tragedies in store. The sinking of the Titanic, the First World War, the Gretna Rail Disaster, the Spanish flu - all have serious repercussions on the lives of the families involved, and Anna, as ever, is there to help them come to terms with them. The story highlights the amazing Leith community spirit of all concerned who lived through this period.