When Ani is forcibly married, her dreams of becoming a teacher are shattered. Employed as a servant at Rain Tree, a colonial home, she indulges in English novels in her spare time. When Ani is widowed soon after, she befriends her Chinese colleagues who shield her from her bigoted mistress. Ani learns that her husband has left her a horrifying debt, one she must keep secret to safeguard her job and dignity. Falling in love with a house guest brings temporary respite. And ramifications — Ani bears his child after he returns to England. To keep her baby, Ani must leave the security of Rain Tree. With chronic unemployment, a housing shortage and impending Independence, Ani realises that without an education, life will be unbearable. With an illegitimate baby, life will be impossible. To alter her destiny, sacrifices must be made. But at what price? Rain Tree weaves a story of loyalty and hope with lessons on love unlike what Ani has learnt from English novels.