On a golden autumn afternoon in Paris, Casimir de Chateauneuf, a successful vintner, wanders through the hollow arcades of the Palais Royal. He stops to browse in a shop called "Orientalia". Past the hookahs, turbans, daggers and tambourines, his eyes are drawn to a miniature portrait of a woman with skin like ivory, and one eye blue, the other yellow.
That night, the painting by his bedside, Chateauneuf dreams he is lost in a city of domes and slim minarets. Alone in a shadowy courtyard a woman sits sobbing, her tears filling an empty fountain . . .
A man possessed, Chateauneuf abandons his wife, family, country, everything, to journey across the sea and desert until unexpected circumstances lead him to Istanbul, the City of the World's Desire . . .
As East meets West, with the legendary opening of the Suez Canal, two people, whose worlds are impossibly far apart, are destined to discover a love beyond even their most ecstatic dreams.