Born on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité—known as Tété—is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, he purchases young Tété for his bride. Yet it is he who will become dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Against the merciless backdrop of sugar cane fields, the lives of Tété and Valmorain grow ever more intertwined. When the bloody revolution of Toussaint Louverture arrives, they flee the brutal conditions of the French colony that will become Haiti for the raucous, free-wheeling enterprise of New Orleans. There, Tété finally forges a new life, but her connection to Valmorain is deeper than anyone knows and not easily severed. Isabel Allende crafts the riveting story of one woman's determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been so battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruelest of circumstances.