Victorine is a dutiful housewife, respectable schoolteacher and mother in the Vendee in the 1900s, cooking the gigot for the family lunch, obeying her husband, walking the long beaches of the Atlantic with her children. But then an old childhood acquaintance turns up and her life is turned upside down forever. She falls passionately in love for the first time in her life.
But her lover's work takes him back to Indochina, and Victorine abandons her life and her family to go with him.
Everything is strange - the extraordinary voyage to get there, the life they lead in the sultry tropical heat, the glamour of colonial life - but life there is also a lie.
Less than two years later, Victorine returns home and resumes her life: what happened?