In the devastating wake of World War Two, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the grand, crumbling castle in which she had once played host to all of German high society. The widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime (caught up in the July '44 Hitler assassination plot), Marianne has promised to remain a lifelong protector to her fellow resistance widows, making it her mission to bring the survivors into the fold of the castle once more. Rescuing her dearest childhood friend's widow, Benita, from the sexual slavery of the Russian army, and another, Ania, from a work camp for political prisoners, Marianne assembles a makeshift family from the ruins of her husband's resistance movement, certain that their shared past will bind them together. But Marianne soon finds that the black-and-white, highly principled world she thought she knew is infinitely more complicated; while Benita begins a clandestine relationship with a former Nazi soldier, Ania struggles to conceal the truth about the part she really played during the Nazi regime. All three women must grapple with the reality that each has been given three lives: ones lived before, during, and after the war, each with its own set of burdens.