Malaya, 1941. As the glamorous wife of a plantation owner, Connie Hadley's life appears pampered and comfortable. But she is hiding devastating secrets that could destroy her marriage. Life is changed for ever on the day of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. As Japanese Zero aircraft attack the town of Palur, Connie takes the decision to flee to Singapore on the family's boat, The White Pearl. She sails with her husband and son, three friends and the enigmatic boat dealer Fitzpayne, who is the only one who can navigate the islands of the South China Sea. In desperation, short of food and constantly in danger, fear strips away good manners; tensions arise on the yacht and anger causes deadly divisions between friends.