The time is 1995, but everybody has a past. Brilliant Australian Caroline can command everyone except her own ghoulish mother, which means that things aren't easy for Josh and Zoe, her husband with Stravinsky-glasses and twelve-year-old daughter. Zoe reads girls' ballet books and longs for lessons; a thing denied her until a chance encounter on a school French exchange. Meanwhile, on the east coast of Africa, Hattie, Josh's first love, now writes girls' ballet books - that's when she can carve out the space between her husband and her crosspatch daughter. From far and wide, they are all drawn together: a masquerade in which things are not always what they seem.