This captivating tale is told in two parts. The first presents Lidia Jorge's version of a traditional story about a series of supposed incidents set in Beira, Mozambique. The events take place in the final years of Portugal's colonial African wars as an undisclosed narrator describes the military wedding of a young Portuguese ensign and an equally young bride. The wedding is followed by the mass poisoning of hundreds of native Africans and the arrival of a rain of locusts. The story ends grimly with the groom's suicide. Evita Lopo, the unnamed bride from the first part, narrates the remainder of the story. Twenty years have gone by and she reviews the past and questions the unidentified narrator's rendering of events in the first section. Evita's reminiscences destroy the credibility of the earlier story, and she supplies the reader with a great deal of information that the author of the previous account had suppressed or to which he or she merely alluded. It becomes apparent that betrayal and guilt have motivated all of the characters' actions.