Early in World War II, William Beech is moves to live with Tom Oakley in rural Dorset.Oakley, a reclusive curmudgeon has been a solitary resident for 40 years since he became a widower and lost his infant son; Beech is an illiterate, bruised, and starving Deptford evacuee. Oakley meets Beech’s needs physically and emotionally until Beech's mother calls for his return to London.
After a time, Beech is back in Deptford as the Blitz continues around him. With no father figure (his father had died several years earlier), his mother,
a militant Christian of the fire-and-brimstone variety,
again influences his emotional demise as she abusively raises a