Miss Maria Seetoh, a teacher of English and Literature in St Peter's Secondary School in Singapore, sees herself as a simple soul who only wants to be a good and happy person , and has a dream to write stories about simple, ordinary people going about their daily lives.
However, God/ Providence/Fate/Chance, etc. decrees otherwise. She is thrown into the tumult of a disastrous marriage that begins as strangely as it ends, a failed love affair that hollows her out , and a controversial teaching career that ends with her abrupt resignation. Most of all, she is caught in a political event as shocking in its causes as in its consequences. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Singapore, a hugely successful city-state grappling with changes and challenges that could corrode the very soul, the novel ultimately examines, with wit, wry irony and warm understanding, the unchanging quandaries of the human condition, when love and sex, religion and politics, tradition and modernity, can all come together in an unruly mix, to show human nature at its most depressing and its most inspiring.