Piet Barol and Stacey are navigating the turbulence and opportunities of colonial South Africa in a quest for comfort and riches. The Land Act has turfed thousands of black families out of their homes, and Piet is appalled by their treatment. But after five years of decadent living, Piet and Stacey are short of cash and in need of wood for the furniture business they have founded. So Piet sets off to pursue a fabled tree, a journey which will take him deep into the homelands of the Xhosa clan, who believe that the spirits of their ancestors reside in the magical trees.
They were never an obvious group of friends. Julian came from the most staid of county families. Jake's passage from unassuming suburbia to the dreaming spires of Oxford happened only by chance, and at great cost. And Adrienne, daughter of one of New York's wealthiest and most glamorous families, grew up more used to appearances in Vogue than to Oxford's cold and dusty lecture halls. When the three of them arrive at university, it is Julian's sister, Maggie, who brings them together.
"Don't waste your time"
Piet Barol is an alluring and intelligent young man who has escaped his drab existence, living with his father in the university town of Leiden, and moved to Amsterdam to take up a job at a stunning mansion in the city's 'Gilded Curve'. He has been employed by the extremely wealthy Vermeulen-Sickerts family to tutor their son Egbert, a boy with prodigious musical talent who has not set foot outside for a year and a half.