Maxine escapes an abusive polygamous marriage to a man much older than her to make a new life in Harare, Zimbabwe. The story follows the five madams she works for. Through them, we see the struggles of women trying to hold down careers and relationships in a big city where tradition, patriarchy, domestic abuse, and unhealthy societal behaviors form a backdrop. While Maxine bears witness to the women’s lives, she also tries to work through her own issues, finding a way to free herself from the cruel man she married and experience meaningful relationships.
The book explores women learning about and seeking the love they feel they deserve. Whether self-love or romantic love, each woman must find the courage to believe in and hold onto that love. Through Maxine’s narration, the intricacies of the relationship women share with their helpers are uncovered. These relationships reveal the truth that women can discover themselves via their friendships with other women.