This story is set over 150 years ago in the Dutch East Indies, during the time of the Dutch occupation. Piranti grows up in the sultan's palace city. She often plays with the princesses and finds that there are ranks and positions everywhere. And that she is not in charge of her own future. Piranti wants to be free and decides to run away. She goes to live with a Dutch soldier. At first she is happy. But slowly she realizes that she has taken a difficult path. She is not married to the Dutch man and he does not acknowledge their children. Piranti, now called Isah, must make important choices. Will she manage not to lose her children?
Dido Michielsen describes part of her own family history in this book. Main character Isah is based on her great-great-grandmother.