A young English woman works in Malaya (now Malaysia) during World War II and becomes a prisoner of war of the Japanese. Since they don't know where to put the group of women and children, they march them from one place to the next. A young Australian POW tries to help them and gets in trouble himself like that.
This is roughly the description of the book when you read the dust jacket. But that is only a small summary of a very small part of the story.
The author says that the march has taken place, not in Malaya but in Sumatra, and the women were not English but Dutch.
There are a lot of words, actions and thoughts that would definitely not be politically correct nowadays but if one considers when this novel was written, it is difficult to imagine it without those racist remarks.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book that takes place in three continents during several different years. You get to know a lot of different people and areas and historical facts. You can imagine how people have started to live in the middle of nowhere and how small settlements have become big towns - or not.