It is 1930. Steven Craig, aged 12; and his 4-year-old sister, Eloise, become orphaned following a volcanic eruption in Java where their parents were missionaries. The children become separated when Steven is returned to Australia to live with his uncle. Efforts to locate Eloise fail. When war with Japan arrives in 1942, Steven joins the army and is sent to the island of Ambon. After the Japanese invade, Steven is held captive in a prisoner of war camp on the island. After the war, Steven stays in the army as a legal officer and is sent back to Ambon as a member of a unit to try the former commander for war crimes. He interviews a young woman, Indah, who witnessed the beheading of prisoners recaptured after escaping, and eventually they fall in love and decide to marry. During the trial, he discovers for the first time that Indah was held by the Japanese as a comfort woman, and she fears that this will end their relationship, but Steven is not shaken in his love for her. Later, he sees her wearing a necklace which belonged to his mother and calls the engagement off, thinking that she must be his sister. Indah is adamant that he is wrong and tries to prove her true parentage. This is a story about love, courage, mateship, the politics of war, the emergence of Indonesia free from Dutch rule, Japan’s plans for Asia and the changing roles of women in post-war society.