Seoul, South Korea. A rebellious young woman falls for a British diplomat. But in a city of tight control, her passion will prove her downfall.
Seoul, South Korea. Mia is an outsider. The child of an English mother, she defies the rigid expectations of her Korean stepmother to work as a translator at the British Embassy. Her uncle runs a charitable - and controversial - school for North Korean defectors, and prevails upon Mia's stepmother to shelter a traumatised young student. Mia is too preoccupied to note the defector's strange behaviour - or its implications.
She has become infatuated with Thomas, a diplomat with a self-destructive streak. When an outrageous indiscretion endangers his position, it is Mia who saves him from humiliation and rescues his career. And the boundaries between them are crossed.
As a reward for his reformation, Thomas is commissioned to audit security amongst Embassy staff. Learning of Mia's connections to the defector, he is compelled to dig deeper into the life of the woman who has captivated him. Suddenly, all that Mia has done to get close to Thomas begins to cause her undoing.
Hannah Michell was born in Yorkshire in 1983 and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She studied Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, then received an MA in Creative Writing from City University. She has worked for the Economist, Penguin Books and now lectures on Korean pop culture at the University of California, Berkeley. Her first novel, The Defections, was published in 2014.