An artist comes to his studio in the afternoon. On his doorstep he sees a woman with curly hair and a dark complexion. She is a total stranger to him, yet she embraces him; she knows him intimately. As he steps past her, two strange children rush to his feet, yelling “Daddy!” But he has never seen them before. On the other side of Cape Town, a white man pulls himself out of bed and toward his mirror, where a black face looks back at him. A concert pianist falls passionately in love with the celebrated singer he works beside but whom he is not allowed to touch. Then one night there is a shift in their worlds, and suddenly the past invades the present in a catastrophic confrontation. In each of the three parts of the novel characters discover that below the familiar surface of their lives lurk other, disconcerting lives which are revealed under the pressure of changed circumstances.