Marie Broom and her husband Vincent enjoy a pleasant life on Hong Kong Island. Vincent is a New Zealander. Marie is Portuguese-Chinese. Married for ten years, the couple have four adored children - daughters aged 9, 8 and 5 and a baby son of 14 months. Vincent's job as a marine engineer often takes him overseas.
It is December 8, 1941. In a few hours their lives will change forever. Marie wakes in the family's home to the sound of bombs falling. Within days, Japanese soldiers have invaded the island. Their building is surrounded. Most British residents are rapidly interned. Vincent is in Singapore. Soon he too is trapped as that island comes under attack.
Marie, the children and the family's four live-in amahs must face the increasingly brutal Japanese occupation alone. This page-turning novel, based on a true story, tells of Marie's struggle to save her children from danger, disease and starvation and Vincent's incredible attempt to rescue them.
Legendary figures appear, from New Yorker correspondent Emily Hahn to Lindsay Ride, founder of British Army Aid Group. But at its heart this is a story of the hard and heart-wrenching decisions that must be made in wartime.