After the island of Penang is attacked by the Japanese at the end of 1941, Mary Helston believes Singapore will be a safe haven. But within weeks, the supposedly invincible British stronghold is on the brink of collapse to the advancing enemy.
Mary and her mother are captured at sea as they try to escape and are interned on the islands of Sumatra. Imprisoned with them is Veronica Leighton, the one person on the planet Mary has reason to loathe with a passion.
As the motley band of women struggle to adapt to captivity, relationships and friendships are tested. When starvation, lack of medication, and the spread of disease worsen, each woman must draw on every ounce of strength in their battle for survival.