The novel covers a twenty-year period beginning in 1942. Allison, a young woman in the British Women's Army whose mother was German, agrees to become a spy. She is parachuted into enemy-occupied France and helped by the French Resistance to reach the German border, where she is met by members of the little-known German Resistance. Her job is to seduce a colonel who works in intelligence and who is involved in troop movements. The novel explores the effect of war on the lives of people while keeping its central focus on a determined, sensitive, maturing woman.