Polly Pride feels luckier than most who live in the poor Ancoats area of Manchester. She has a loving husband, two healthy children, a place of their own and a regular wage coming in. But it is the late 1920s, unrest is in the air, employers are putting on the squeeze, and when Matthew loses his job Polly’s life is thrown into turmoil.
With no money coming in Polly decides that only drastic action can keep the family from starvation and in a desperate gamble she sells all the family goods and chattels and buys a handcart, from which she sells second-hand rugs and carpets. But struggling to deal with poverty and her husband’s hurt pride are only the start of her problems, for when tragedy strikes Polly has to do battle with the bigotry of a sour brother-in-law to keep herself and her family from falling apart.