Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison explores racial relationships among an unforgettable group of characters. In a seaside mansion on a lush Caribbean island, millionaire Valerian Street and his wife go through the motions of a life together, a life orchestrated by the attentions of their black butler and the butler's wife. The ornament in this world is Jadine, the beautiful, cultivated young niece of the servants, who has enjoyed a Paris education at Valerian's expense. The glassy surface of this privileged life is shattered one night, when a ragged black American street man called "Son" breaks into the house. This violent and uneducated man becomes a mirror in which the others begin to see their own hopes and illusions - and Jadine to see the racial and class entanglements that impinge upon her growing love.