When Lily is a young teenager, the time comes for her and her friends to leave school and find work; some are emigrating to America, some going to work in shops. Lily is going into service in the Big House - Lissadell. Lily's employers, the Gore-Booth family, are kind, but life as a young housemaid can be hard: Lily works long days, she has to learn to get along with the staff, particularly her roommate, the sullen and uncommunicative Nellie, and she misses her home and family.
But when Maeve, daughter of Constance Markievicz and niece of the Gore-Booths, comes to visit and decides to paint a portrait of Lily an unusual friendship begins between the two girls from such different worlds. A warm and engaging story about friendship, life in the early 20th century and how the political world affects everyone.