Two stories are interwoven. The shorter, which begins and ends the book, is specifically set in 1910â€“1912 and tells of the last uprising of the desert tribes against the French protectorate of Morocco, mostly as observed by a small boy, Nour. The longer, the story of Lalla, is set in an indefinite time, but obviously after the Second World War. It describes her early life in a Shanty city on the edge of an unnamed Moroccan coastal town, and particularly her friendship with the Hartani who, like her, originates from the desert tribes. It narrates the time she spends in Marseilles and her eventual return to the shanty city, where she gives birth to the Hartani's child.