It is the height of the Great Depression and Jessica Greaves has promised her late father that she will look after her younger sister, Tillie. It is a promise that will shape her entire life and have shattering consequences.
In despair, with no resources and nowhere to turn, Jessica does the only thing she can: She takes to the streets of New York to sell herself in order to keep herself and her sister alive.
Refusing to know and, later, to acknowledge, just how her sister has managed to provide for the two of them, Tillie blithely--with completely self-absorption--goes after whatever she wants, without regard for the fact that it will ultimately fall to Jess to satisfy Tillie's demands.
When Jess agrees to what she believes is a marriage of convenience to a wealthy businessman, Tillie is very nearly consumed by anger and jealousy. And when it becomes obvious that Jess has actually found love with this man, the knowledge nearly drives Tillie mad.
Fleeing from everyone and everything following the death of her son, Tillie runs away. And in the intervening years, Jess is forced to make yet another promise--one that will, eventually, allow her to redeem herself in her own eyes. So that when the sisters finally reunite, they are two very different people who at last are able to make good on that long-ago promise Jess made to their father.