1953: Pretty, ambitious, 19-year-old Ruby Payne and her lifelong friend Kath Rigler are eager to enjoy their post-war independence. Moving away from home to a flat the East End of London is a chance to break free for them both: Kath from her abusive family and Ruby to escape the unhappy memories of her brother's suicide two years before. Ruby finds work immediately at a fashionable new dog grooming parlour close to the city. Even though animals aren't really Ruby's thing, she has high hopes of changing her fortunes. Kath isn't quite so lucky and has to make do with her tough factory job, leaning more and more on Ruby for emotional support. But then Ruby meets handsome, charming Nick Brandon - and ignores the warnings from those around her that he is trouble. Ruby wants a glamorous life - but it will come at a high cost for her and Kath.