Ingrid Hoffmann has always felt responsible for her sister Margarete and when their family moves to German Southwest Africa in 1902, her anxieties only increase. The casual racism that pervades the German community, the strange relationship between her parents and Baron von Ketz, from whom they bought their land, and the tension with the local tribes all culminate in tragedy when Baron von Ketz is savagely murdered. Baroness von Ketz and their son, Emil, flee with the Hoffmanns as the Baron’s attackers burn down the family’s farm.
Both families return to Berlin and Ingrid’s concerns about Margarete are assuaged when she and Emil von Ketz become engaged on the eve of the First World War. But Margarete disappears on her wedding night at the von Ketz’s country house. The mystery of what happened to her sister haunts Ingrid, but as Europe descends into chaos, her hope of discovering the truth becomes ever more distant. After the war, in the midst of the revolution that brings down the Kaiser and wipes out the aristocracy that her family married into, Ingrid returns to the von Ketzes’ crumbling estate determined to find out what really happened to her sister.