A land- a building of several storeys of separate dwellings communicating by a common stair. Madge Ritchie moves her three young daughters into Catherine's Land when the death of her husband leaves them in reduced circumstances. By 1920 Madge can't imagine life without her noisy, nosy neighbours; though two of her girls, ambitious Abby and artistic Rachel, both dream of making their escape. Only Jennie, the middle child most like her gentle mother, is happy in the hurly-burly atmosphere of the tenements.
But when Jim Gilbride and his sons Malcom and Rory move into the Ritchies' stair the lives of both families are to change dramatically- and the bonds of love and hatred, jealously and forgiveness are forged that will bind them all to Catherine's Land for ever.