Alma is the wife of a railroad worker and mother of three children in 1924 working in a hosiery mill and running a boarding house to support them. Alma's husband Henry hears about a great opportunity in Miami: steamer trunks, unclaimed from a luxury ship, are available for purchase. Henry decides that they will seek their fortune on the docks, and Alma agrees to leave the children behind temporarily. Alma decides that Irving, the eldest, is old enough to be on his own. She takes the younger two, Willard and Lettie, to a Catholic orphanage but promises to come back for them. Henry and Alma drive down to Miami, only to discover that the steamer trunk they bought contains nothing of value, as promised, and they start to go home. But Henry changes his mind and stays on the Miami docks, sending Alma back to West Virginia by herself. On the way to W. Virginia, Alma meets Roxy, a gentle giant. Alma picks Lettie up from the orphanage, like she promises, but is convinced by a nun that Willard is better off staying. With survival at stake, Roxy and Delphine, Roxy's new girlfriend and an aquaintance of Alma's, convince Alma to open a brothel. It becomes very profitable, and in time Lettie is raped by a policeman, someone she and Delphine both knew way back when, and decides to marry him. The policeman, Smitty, is very abusive to Lettie, and her mother, Delphine, and Roxy finally get her out of the relationship - unofficially. The four women need to come up with a way to totally end it.
The review of this Book prepared by Ariana