It is 1955 and two cousins, Nora and Alicia, are growing up in Cuba, where the sun shines and the sea is a beguiling turquoise. But revolutionary storm clouds are gathering, and as Castro comes to power, banks are closed, religion outlawed, and food shortages begin. Nora and her family emigrate to California; Alicia and hers stay behind. But Nora has left her heart in Cuba. As the years pass, Alicia writes of her marriage to Tony, the birth of her daughter, and the terrible privations ordinary Cubans are suffering, while Castro and his henchmen dine off French porcelain in their gated mansions. When Tony is arrested for anti-revolutionary behaviour, and Alicia and her daughter's survival becomes increasingly hand to mouth, Nora knows she must return to help them.