The story begins with a shocking revelation, delivered by a disheveled woman who presents herself at the offices of a respectable law firm in London. At first the receptionist suspects this mysterious woman is a vagrant; the clothes that hang on her frail body are filthy, and she seems unable to speak. When the woman requests to see the firm's senior partner, Alexander Armstrong, she is shown the door -- but when Mr. Armstrong learns the name of his visitor, all the office staff is amazed by his reaction. For Irene Baindor is a woman with a past, and her emergence from obscurity signals the unraveling of a mystery that had baffled the lawyer for twenty-six years. To those around her, Irene Baindor had been a young woman of class and musical talent, the wife of a wealthy and powerful man, and the mother to a beloved baby boy. But behind closed doors she was a woman with a dangerous husband, a husband who would one day act with such cruelty that Irene would be left without most of her voice and memory. It was then that Irene disappeared. What Irene had been doing, and where she had been, gradually emerges over the following weeks, as the unlikely benefactors who had befriended her step forward to reveal the remarkable life she has led.