This saga follows the story of Elizabeth, a young British woman born and raised in Shanghai in the 1890s. At eighteen, she marries a young missionary who is assigned to East Africa and struggles to discover and enjoy her sexuality amid the expectations of decorum for a young British woman in the puritanical age of the Victorian era. She knows there must be more to love and marriage than is provided by her devoted, yet hapless husband Aston, who seems unwilling or unable to fulfill her needs.
The account of the colonization of Africa from 1900 through the end of the first World War serves as the backdrop for the story, which introduces a rich variety of characters, including the crusty old trader, John Brown, the dashing young Captain Waltham, and the young missionary couple, Thomas and Jane Faulk.
The descriptions of Elizabeth's lusty adventures are detailed, and meant for a mature audience.