One wild night in the 1930s, midwife Patty Peel is called to attend a birth on the opposite side of Liverpool. She pedals off into the storm and delivers a baby girl in a filthy slum dwelling, just as the mother dies. The drunk and violent father tells Patty to get rid of it so she takes the child away, meaning to deliver it to the nearest orphanage. However, Patty spent her entire childhood in an institution, except for the frequent occasions when she ran away, and cannot bear to hand the baby over. But she has few friends and despises all the men around her, so how can she hope to bring up the baby alone?