A tragic romance novel.
James Ashleigh lives to him the perfect life. Plenty of money, plenty of women and plenty of drink to keep him happy. He spends his working time sailing the oceans of the world as an officer on oil tankers. Carefree, he is not tied to one place but visits exotic places around the world. When on leave, he can completely please himself as to what he does. Life is great.
Feeling the need to move from oil tankers, he joins a small company whose ships trade to the Baltic. While the ship is in Helsinki discharging cargo, he meets Maria. His life changes from that point. He is no longer carefree but tied to a place and another person. He starts to look forward with excitement to arriving in Helsinki and her letters when he gets back to London.
The novel charts the progress of those changes, both for good and bad. Through the twisting path of James' life we follow his joy and his despair in his relationship to Maria.
As time passes he wonders whether he will be truly happy again.