Elena Linden is three years old when her violinist father, Franz, forms an orchestra and contracts to play dinner and dance music in a hotel in Bombay, India. The Linden family-Franz, his wife, Marta, and their six children-leave Bucharest, Romania, in 1901 for a gypsy life in the exotic locales of Egypt, India, Singapore, and, finally, Siam. As the children mature, Franz incorporates them into the orchestra. Elena's adventures as she grows up in these tropical climes, her family relationships, and a romance with an Italian architect are menaced by the approaching World War I. Being of German nationality, Franz decides to leave British Singapore and takes his family and orchestra to Siam. Soon, however, Siam also declares war on Germany. The family is torn asunder as they become prisoners of war, sent to internment camps in India and Australia. The fate of the Lindens is revealed humorously, lovingly, and with pathos in this entertaining and suspenseful vel.