As famine sweeps across Ireland, Nora O'Neal clings to hope that her lover in America will send for her. Devastated by news that he has married someone else, she turns to the Kennaway Scheme as her only hope of survival. The plan to send a shipload of destitute women to South Africa on board the Kennaway appears a godsend, but Nora soon discovers a drawback. On arrival, the women are destined to marry German Legionnaires, men settled on land granted to them in the Eastern Cape after the Crimean war.
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Nora is horrified at the thought of marrying a stranger but must face the fact that the alternative is starvation. Or life in a whorehouse. When the Kennaway docks in Dublin, she joins the crowd waiting to board.
Soon after landing in East London, Nora meets and marries Johan Detmann, one of the many men seeking a wife. As the pair travel along the lonely road toward her new home, she wonders what lies ahead, unaware that she is about to enter a land troubled by famine, hardships, uprisings and bloody Frontier wars.