It's 1950s Tobago and Celia spends her days with her younger cousins, Aunt Tassi and her step-father, Roman, a man so sly he could crawl "under a snake's belly on stilts". After Roman rapes her, Celia escapes.
In Trinidad, rescued by an English family, she takes a job as a nanny to the wealthy Dr Rodriguez and his homesick wife. Seduced by her new employer, Celia finds herself locked into a feverish liaison that is only ended when the mistress of the house slips into her darkened room. Smyth's heady coming-of-age novel exposes a young girl's vulnerability in a society of predatory men.