The novel then jumps to the 1950's. It tells the story of two families. One is the American Ambassador to Guatemala. The other is a highly placed executive in United Fruit which holds a monopoly in the country. The wife of the ambassador is having an affair with the United Fruit executive and their affair has long-reaching results, echoed in the companies and the country.
In the 1970's, a group of missionaries come to save the native population. The focus of the novel is on one married couple. The man preaches to the native population who have come to their camp as refugees from the terrorists and the violence between the government and those terrorists. He also attempts to train the refugee man in the civil patrol, constructing roads and learning to be soldiers. His wife works with the women, teaching them to sew with machines to gain a skill that they can be employed with. The camp is caught up in the violence.
Finally, in modern times, a woman from Los Angeles and her adopted daughter come to Guatemala to try to find the clues to the daughter's heritage. The woman's former lover, a woman who believes in various government conspiracies, trails them there and attempts to find evidence to support her wild theories.
All of these women's stories serve to illustrate the chaos that reigned in this country for decades and the part that American interference served in it's corruption and exploitations of the native population. Characters from one story show up in others despite the time differences and no matter the time period, the only constant is the fact that those indigenous to the region are never those in power but are always exploited to serve others' agendas. This book is recommended to readers of historical fiction.