Doomed love within a corrupt political world. At 18, the beautiful and smart Kira comes to Petersburg as the Communists consolidate power. She rebuffs a cousin who rises in the Party and may remember the slight. She falls in love with Leo, the son of an aristocrat, who gets into political trouble and never gets out. Meanwhile, a Party leader, Andrei, also loves her, and she feigns love for him to get political protection for Leo and money to pay for his TB treatment. But can Leo forgive her being Andrei's mistress? Subplots dramatize Party corruption, the disillusion of those who fought hardest in the revolution, and reflections on the man's individual nature.