It's London, 1960, and Aoife Kelly, runs pubs with her brusque, barking husband, Cash. Their courtship began in wartime London, before they returned to Ireland with their daughters in tow. One of these daughters, fiery, independent-minded Rosaleen moves back to London, where she meets and begins an affair with the famous sculptor Felix Lehmann. When Rosaleen finds herself pregnant with Felix's child, she is evicted from her flat, dismissed from her job, and desperate to hide the secret from her family. Meanwhile, Kate, another generation down, lives in present-day London with her young daughter and husband, an unsuccessful musician and destructive alcoholic. Adopted and floundering to find a sense of herself in the midst of her unhappy marriage, Kate sets out to track down her birth mother, a search that leads her to a Magdalene Laundry in Ireland and the harrowing history that it holds.