Emma Paupere has just returned to New Zealand from Shanghai, where her training as a painter has made her a copyist of incredible skill. Now, Siaki, her ambitious and manipulative ex-boyfriend, has recruited her as a forger, shutting Emma away in a borrowed apartment on Prices Warf. In a room housing the owner's prize possession - a lost painting by Gauguin - Emma works day and night copying one of the most valuable Goldies in the Auckland Museum. Lost in memories of the two men who shaped her life in Shaghai - her Chinese painting teacher, and the charismatic New Zealander with whom she had a passionate affair - Emma finds herself increasingly exposed to danger. And when talent, hubris, and greed collide with disastrous consequences, Emma has no choice but to try to flee up the Hibiscus Coast.