In this book, set in Battersea in the Fifties and Sixties, the Pratchett family have to contend with coalman Alfie Pratchett's obsessive jealousy. Although Alfie is a bully, his two teenage children, John and Millie, have learned to dodge him and his moods. The main concern of ugly duckling Millie - who looks nothing like her handsome brother John - is to protect their mum, Eileen. When a serious crisis occurs at the Pratchetts' home, Alfie is forced to watch his whole world gradually collapse around him. Their old life has gone forever, and a new one has begun - one in which rape, debt, alcoholism and insanity play their parts. And redemption is a long time coming.