A man's belief in, an search for, freedom spans the years between World Wars and leads to the discovery that he is not his own master. Stuart Cosling, a Canadian-American, buys land on the Cote d'Azur, builds and farms for Marthe, to whom he is not married, and their son, Robbie, has an affair with Odette whose marriage -- and vengeance -- endangers his beloved property. With the development of St. Martin, Cosling knows wealth again and their indulgence sends Marthe to Carl, who turns out to be a German agent, and thrusts Robbie into the world of homosexuality. Cosling stands by Marthe when, through Carl, she is jailed and is able, by killing Carl to prevent treachery, to win Robbie into the promise of a more normal way of life. Outlaws of convention and the wreckage of illusions make for a novel whose sophistication may be too extreme for some.