This novel is largely centered around the activities of a resistance network in Southern France that fought against the Germans between 1941 and 1944. The leader of the unit is an Englishman, Harry Bailey, who, though from a modest working class background in the Midlands, developed an early love for the French language and culture that was later to stand him in good stead upon entering the British Army in 1940. Subsequently, Bailey was assigned to the Intelligence Corps and was later recruited to join SOE (the Special Operations Executive).
The novel goes on to explore the relationships among the various members of Harry's unit (e.g. Paulette, Louis Maurois, Paul Cattoir, Violette Crowther, and Jenny Campbell) and gives the reader an idea of how the war impacted on people who, in spite of the dangers in being a "resistant", bravely fought against the German occupiers. (The author himself had served in SOE, and through his writing, shows the painstaking work that was involved in training and leading a resistance network.)