Hauled in a cart to a field hospital in northern France in March 1916, an American woman wakes from unconsciousness to the smell of gas gangrene, the sounds of men in pain, and an almost complete loss of memory: she knows only that she can drive an ambulance, she can draw, and her name is Stella Bain.
A stateless woman in a lawless country, Stella embarks on a journey to reconstruct her life. Suffering an agonising and inexplicable array of symptoms, she finds her way to London. There, Dr August Bridge, a cranial surgeon turned psychologist, is drawn to tracking her amnesia to its source. What brutality was she fleeing when she left the tranquil seclusion of a New England college campus to serve on the Front; for what crime did she need to atone – and whom did she leave behind?