One day in the 1920s, a five-year-old girl runs into a wood and disappears. Two years later she walks out of the wood and into the nearest house. Gracie Burrows finds the girl curled up on the armchair: a feral, rather grubby gift of fate. Known as Joy in the Cotswold village that adopts her, there is endless speculation about her wild and comical ways. But Gracie is happy to remain ignorant about the child's origins in case anyone should come forward and reclaim her. As Joy grows into a young woman at the advent of war, she becomes romantically involved with a fighter pilot and the extraordinary mystery of her past begins to unravel.