Phillippa Moniz Perestrello, daughter of Bartholomeo Perestrello the explorer who discovered the Madiera Islands for Portugal, struggles to find her own identity in the explosive world of Portuguese exploration in the last half of the fifteenth century. Born in the raucous frontier of the Madiera islands and transplanted to sophisticated Lisbon, Phillippa struggles to find her place in the world. Her independent spirit and sense of adventure prevent her from being accepted by polite society. She is unable to accept her place as a traditional woman in a man's world and her life becomes a struggle to escape the constraints placed on her by the Church, her mother, and the society in which she appears trapped. In Christopher Columbus she finds her freedom. But freedom isn't at all what she dreamed it would be.