The setting is Vienna. A young American woman is brought to a hospital after overdosing on pills, apparently in a suicide attempt. A police detective suspects foul play on the part of her lover, an American psychology professor. As doctors try to save her life, the detective interrogates the professor, and through flashbacks we see the events leading up to the woman's overdose; her stormy and intensely sexual relationship with the professor, her heavy drinking and numerous affairs, and her estrangement from her Czech husband. A darkly erotic study of several rather unsympathetic characters.
In 1931 Paris, Anais Nin meets Henry Miller and his wife June. Intrigued by them both, she begins expanding her sexual horizons with her husband Hugo as well as with Henry and others. June shuttles between Paris and New York trying to find acting jobs while Henry works on his first major work, "Tropic of Cancer," a pseudo-biography of June. Anais and Hugo help finance the book, but June is displeased with Henry's portrayal of her, and Anais and Henry have many arguments about their styles of writing on a backdrop of a Bohemian lifestyle in Paris.