Set in 1851, a mute Scottish woman arrives in colonial New Zealand for an arranged marriage, with her precocious young daughter and beloved piano in tow. Her practical new husband refuses to transport the piano to their home and makes a deal with his neighbor, George Baines to take the piano off his hands. Attracted to Ada, Baines agrees to return the piano in exchange for a series of piano lessons that become a series of increasingly charged sexual encounters. As pent-up emotions of rage and desire swirl around all three characters, the savage wilderness begins to consume the tiny European enclave.

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