Loosely based on Bizet's opera, "Carmen", the novel deals with the mysticism of love and the subversion of sexual identity. It unfolds through the eyes of the opera's secondary female character, Michaela. Now settled in
Michaela is the artist daughter of one of the country's ruling families. She meets Jose, an enforced conscript, whose family work on a sugar plantation owned by one of the US-backed multi-national companies. A fugitive from the army, Jose is rescued and hidden by Michaela and as their relationship unfolds he opens her eyes to the local poverty invisible to her privileged family and friends.
Despite his love for Michaela, Jose is conflicted by the moral issues posed by their different lives. But destiny throws the couple another dangerous card - in the shape of Carmen herself.
The conflict between the lovers, which represents the deeper conflicts between passion and possession, between poverty and privilege, takes place against the background of looming civil war.