Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small Tunisian cafe in Paris. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers at the great abattoirs of Vaugirard who, as with Houria and Sabiha themselves, have grown used to the smell of blood in the air. When one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, a tragic love story begins to unfold. Years later, while living a quiet life in suburban Melbourne, John Patterner is haunted by what happened to him and Sabiha at Vaugirard. He confides his story to Ken, an ageing writer, who sees in John's account the possibility for one last simple love story. When Ken tells his daughter this she reminds him, 'Love is never simple, Dad. You should know that.' He does know it. But being the writer he is, he cannot resist the lure of the story.