Penelope Magnificent's life doesn't live up to her name. Her dad only thinks about making money, and her mum loves her handbag more than her daughter. But she gets through the hard times remembering the lovely French woman Perrine - Pear - who looked after her when she was little. Even after Pear was sent away, she wrote to Nell every week, telling her about her new life, promising one day she'd come back.
But the letters stopped, suddenly. So when Nell gets the chance to go to Paris with her parents, she is determined to track down Pear. But the mystery gets deeper when Pear isn't where she told Nell she'd be - and never had been!