It is 1942 and the war is not going well. As part of the war effort the Ashworth Grammar School for Girls signs up for the Merchant Navy's Ship Adoption Scheme. The headmistress, the lovely, essentially serious Cynthia Maitland, who lost her lover in the First World War, believes the idea will broaden the horizons of her girls, especially Polly and Jen, bright sixth formers eager to live and love despite it all.
All is as it should be in the line of duty until Captain Josh Percival and his officers of the SS Treverran visit Ashworth . . . The choices that follow will disrupt all their lives, reverberating even to the next generation, when, decades later, life and love are on the line again.