Hetty survives the bombing of Portsmouth by the Nazis in World War II, only to learn that her soldier husband — with whom she was in the process of adopting a young daughter — has been killed on the way back home from North Africa. She must then complete the adoption alone. A decade later, she gives birth to a bastard daughter, Marguerite. Now Hetty must go before a tribunal to prove that she is a fit mother — or possibly lose both her children. From there, The Late Child and Other Animals tells the story of little Marguerites childhood in the recovering British naval port and the rural beauty of the Isle of Wight and in Normandy, France. The journeys and struggles over decades of this mother and daughter are linked in five episodes that veer between lyricism, wry wit, and harrowing suspense.