Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, and its aftermath 10 years later, the story alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the events of the war. In 1952, Claire is a provincial newlywed, recently arrived in the flourishing colony of Hong Kong. There, she quickly becomes involved with an enigmatic expatriate, whose visible and emotional injuries raise questions about his past. In 1941, Trudy Liang is a wealthy Eurasian society belle, who finds a kind of salvation in a newly arrived Englishman. For people without true homelands, the dark conflagration will test the limits of loyalty, identity and passion. And as the brutalities of war take their toll on the vulnerable and the brave, each player will learn the price of survival, even at the cost of love.
Braced with authentic, sensual detail and keen observations about a forgotten social order, this assured novel evokes the romantic sweep of THE ENGLISH PATIENT and the colonial drama of E.M. Forster.