Oddly enough there aren't actually that many summaries of this novel flying around online. There is this review on dillycourt.com though:
"A must-read for lovers of Dilly Court’s books – she describes what’s happening so vividly you can feel and smell what she writes and draws you into the everyday life of her characters"Well I'm going to be absolutely honest about this novel. I was thoroughly disappointed. I agree with the above review - Dilly Court does describe Victorian London very well. But for me to like a novel I tend to have to like the characters. There were very few for me to like in this novel.
- Bournemouth Echo
The protagonist, Irene, is a somewhat gobby girl who does what she can to make ends meet. Her father goes out and gambles all the family's money away leaving them continuously struggling just to buy simple basics like coal and bread (the father is a complete idiot, I mean yes, he's her father but he's such a selfish loser that I couldn't feel any sympathy for him at all). Irene's mother is meant to be a kind soul but she seems so pushover-ish that again, I couldn't like her at all. It's not that being a doormat is a bad thing (I think I am sometimes myself) but in this case the mother is so useless - she doesn't offer any useful advice at all and gets exceedingly upset anytime there is even a whiff of an argument in the air, so everyone has to walk around on eggshells and not say how they actually feel. The sister is a self-centered sap, the brother-in-law is an old man and a social climber who cares only about "how things look" and his first son is a wimp while the other is described as a "cad" (rapist is a better term). So yes - nearly all the characters are horrid.
Irene herself talks far too little sense - I get it that she's meant to be doing whatever she can to save her father from jail (though I don't know why she bothers, all he does is gamble and drink, go off for days on end without any notice, hang out with dodgy gangs and give his family unending grief) but she just seems clueless and plain dumb a lot of the time. Her "love interest" seems average really - I didn't like him much because I didn't even feel like after a whole 576 pages I knew him very well. The "love interest" aspect was rushed completely.
So to summarise, I disliked it. It took me far too long to get through all 576 pages (3 weeks!) and I felt it was a waste of time and a waste of £3.94.
You might like it if you like Victorian era based novels (just for the description). But if you like novels where you are left feeling like you know the characters and actually like them - this isn't going to be for you.