Kitty O'Brien's husband is a drunken thug, and in order to feed her starving children, she sells her body on the Liverpool docks. Her daughter Lizzie is pregnant by her father and, still weak after her abortion, she kills him.
Her mother takes the blame, but Lizzie cannot blot out the painful memories of her childhood. Eventually, with a failed marriage behind her, she finds fame, fortune and friendship in Hollywood - but happiness still escapes her.
And so she returns to her roots, and it is her final marriage and its disastrous consequences that, at last, force her to face her past and find the happiness and peace of mind that have always eluded her.