Newlyweds Nerys and Evan Ellis leave the Welsh valleys behind to become missionaries in the remote and isolated province of Ladakh, India. Still under British rule, India in the 1930s grumbles with unrest. As winter approaches, an aristocratic English couple, Myrtle and Archie McMinn, sweep Nerys away from her husband and down to the lakeside town of Srinagar. There, Nerys is caught up in a world of dancing and gossip, luxury and ease - a million miles from her life as a preacher's wife. When Rainer Stamm, an enigmatic mountaineer determined to conquer the Himalayas, comes into her life, she is inexorably tempted.
Yet all the time the drums of war draw nearer, and life will soon change beyond measure.
Years later, when Mair Ellis clears out her father's house after his death, she finds an exquisite antique shawl, painstakingly hand-embroidered and worth a fortune. Wrapped with it are a lock of a child's hair and a crumpled black-and-white photograph.
Mair traces her grandparents' roots back to India and Kashmir, and is inspired to travel there herself to unlock the secrets of the past. It is a journey that will throw her into the path of unrest, tragedy and drama that will change her own life forever.