In the days before the Civil War in the old French Quarter of New Orleans there lived the GENS DE COULEUR, the Free People of Colour, a fierce and proud people, descended from slaves and their French and Spanish owners, neither Black nor White, but caught between the two - free and yet not free. Among them is Michael, the mesmeric copper-skinned youth, mercurial, attractive, wild: an artist in the making, he dreams of Paris, and the lure of a brand new art, Daguerreotype. His gentle sister Marie longs for love and marriage in a world ready to sell her charms to the highest bidder. And there is Anita Bella, the beautiful young courtesan; and Dolly Rose, the splendid madame; and Christophe, the brilliant young teacher who has returned from Paris with dangerous ideas. The author of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE has written a novel as exotic, exciting, colourful and sensuous as the French Quarter itself.