Suddenly finding herself motherless at the age of six, Vera is left in the care of her grandfather, who spends long periods away at sea, leaving her alone back in Vancouver. When she reaches her teens, Vera is taken by her grandfather’s mistress to a small island in Japan. After years of loneliness, she finds an island where she can feel comfortable. The women of the island take her in and she learns to dive for pearls. Immersed in her surroundings, she meets a mysterious stranger, a man who is trained as a ceremonial sword polisher, who brings her into touch with the outside world. Every day, they listen to the mounting rhetoric on the radio and must live with the knowledge of the havoc that the Japanese are wreaking in China. Then the worst happens. Vera is forced to return to Canada by a father whom she has long thought is dead. World War Two breaks out. The idyll is over. But Vera never forgets her island life, the sword polisher, or her true identity. Determined to regain the passion and joy that she once knew, she must return to Japan, to the one place that she truly belonged.