Hal Treherne is a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. Impatient to see action, his other deep commitment is to Clara, his beautiful red, white and blue girl , who sustains him as he rises through the ranks. When Hal is transferred to the Mediterranean, Clara, now his wife, and their baby daughters join him. But Cyprus is no sunshine posting , and the island is in the heat of the Emergency: the British are defending the colony against Cypriots schoolboys and armed guerrillas alike battling for enosis, union with Greece. The skirmishes are far from glorious and operations often rough and bloody. Still, in serving his country and leading his men, Hal has a taste of triumph. Clara shares his sense of duty. She must settle down, make no fuss, smile. But action changes Hal, and Clara becomes fearful of the lethal tit-for-tat beyond the army base, and her increasingly distant husband. The atrocities Hal is drawn into take him further from Clara; a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.