The period prior to the Spanish Civil War provides the background setting for Nick Hamm's historical romantic drama. Young Irish governess Mary Lavelle (Polly Walker) arrives in Spain and begins a year of employment with the wealthy Areavaga family. Under the romantic spell of Spain, Mary develops a fascination for handsome Francisco (Vincent Perez), the Areavago family's married son. Francisco is attracted to Mary, and their doomed love affair is conducted amid skirmishes and street riots as war clouds gather. The Ann Guedes/Frank McGuinness screenplay is adapted from the 1937 novel, Mary Lavelle by Kate O'Brien (1897-1974). The book was reprinted in 1984 by Virago. This film was actually made in 1996 and then bumped by Miramax through numerous release dates over a two-year span before finally surfacing in theaters in 1998.