Beguiled by promises of wealth, fourteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves her native Ceylon for Malaysia and marriage to a man many years her senior. But Ayah has lied to her and her family about his circumstances and in fact lives in poverty. A woman of formidable energy and intelligence, Lakshmi provides security, if not luxury, for her family, though at a considerable emotional cost. Then the Japanese army invades during WWII. On the eve of peace, her beloved eldest daughter is raped and killed by the occupying army. The family bears deep scars and inflicts those wounds on the next generation. But in Nisha, Lakshmi's great-granddaughter, it is as if Fate has come full circle and the novel ends on a note of reconciliation and hope.