From the back cover: "It was a terrific year for talk. But through it all the talk would come back to Marc Royer and Liana. That subject never failed; it belonged to the island entirely. Everyone asked everyone else, during that whole year, why Marc Royer had married her"
The year is 1940. France has fallen to the Germans, but on the tiny French Caribbean island of Saint Boniface nothing absorbs the inhabitants more than the news of wealthy Marc Royer's marriage to the young mulatto, Liana. Marc himself is impervious to the scandal - Liana, after all, is "something he had bought for use when he could not have what he loved" - but for Liana the price of becoming a "white wife" is alienation both from her own people and from those whom, for a time, she tries to emulate. Only with Pierre, her teacher, does she feel herself free, but he is white, and a man, and in the end knows where his allegiances lie. Liana does not have that certainty and in this disturbing novel about the sadness and inhumanity of oppression, her plight speaks to us as powerfully today as when Liana was first published in 1944.