Rose Burnett, Martie Stweart and Alex Kelsie grew up in the "Colonies", a housing development by the Water of Leith. Only Rose, a lawyer's daughter, did not belong. Still, when Alex and Martie both decided to train as nurses in Edinburgh, they're relieved to see Rose's friendly face- even if she is now Staff Burnett.
Whilst Martie is determined to escape the misery of her childhood and find a rish husband, Alex has more romantic dreams. She's had a crush on Rose's brother since they were children and is secretly excited when he's admitted to the hospital with a mild case of TB. But, though Tim Burnett finally seems to notice her, nurses in the 1950s are strictly forbidden from any personal development with their patients.
They all laugh when one of the patients nicknames them the 'Butterfly Girls' after the Butterfly wards they work on, but, as Rose points out, nursing is for keeping your feet on the ground, not flying. Alex is risking more than her heart in pursuing a relationship with Tom...
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