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When Grace de Silva's once prominent family loses their vast tea estate she has little idea how profoundly life in her lush Eden-like homeland of Sri Lanka is about to change. Her children dream of escape - Jacob, the eldest, wants desperately to go to England; Thornton longs to become a poet; Alicia dreams of becoming a concert pianist. But civil unrest is brewing and Christopher, the youngest of the de Silva children, is soon trapped in a web of violence and tragedy. Against a backdrop of escalating ethnic conflict, Grace watches helplessly as the life she knows begins to unravel. Slowly, this once inseparable family is torn apart as some make the decision to emigrate while others stay behind. In London, the de Silvas are each, in their different ways, desperately homesick. Caught in the clash between the traditional life they knew in the East and the jarring modernity of the West, life is not what any of them had hoped for. Only Meeka, the first of the de Silva family to be born in England, moves confidently through a world of possibilities. But even her life is not as easy as it often seems. Only after she has overcome heartbreak and a terrible mistake can she realize the extraordinary opportunity history has bestowed on her family.