In 1856 an emigrant ship was wrecked on Magpie's Island, off the coast of Australia. The seven survivors found themselves to be the sole inhabitants. They were: Williams, a seaman; fourteen-year-old Isobel Riley; James Curfew, a labourer's son; a small boy called Joe and three young girls. During the four years when the island was their home Isobel grew into a desirable young woman whose very presence sparked off lust, hatred and death.
So begins a powerful saga of three generations whose lives are inextricably bound up with Magpie's Island. The lives and destinies of the closely related families are skilfully depicted whether the background be Australia or England. The last act is played out when two young people, descendents of Isobel Riley, set out to make their life on the island that for over a hundred years has exerted its magnetic charm.