The story, “A Memory of Violets” by Hazel Gaynor begins in London, England in 1876. Two orphaned Irish sisters, Flora and Rosie Flynn, sell violets and watercress to survive. Flora uses a crutch and Rosie is almost blind, so selling flowers is their only means of earning a living. The girls have only each other; their mother is dead and their father is an abusive drunk. One day Rosie and Flora are separated, and become lost to each other forever.
The story then jumps to 1912 and introduces Tilly Harper. Tilly has just accepted a job as assistant housemother at one of Mr. Shaw’s Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls. The homes were created to give orphaned girls an opportunity to get off the streets and earn a decent wage. Tilly finds a notebook that belonged to Flora and it contains the tale of how Flora never stopped looking for her baby sister. Tilly sets out to find Rosie and along the way she learns about the depths of her own heart.