The novel provides perspective on the Navy and these events through the characters of Frank Jannaway, a servant's son in the household of retired naval officer Jervis Yarrow, whose son, Roddy, brutalizes Frank and whose daughter, Anita, is infatuated with him. Jannaway is a bright boy and shows promise on the piano, so Mr. Yarrow undertakes to pay for his schooling. Roddy is a conniving and thoroughly rotten young man who eventually uses Anita's indiscretions to get Frank thrown out of school and the house and into the Navy as an enlisted man. Meanwhile, Roddy's father gets him out of one scrape after another and advances him far beyond his abilities as a Naval officer. Frank and Anita are reunited years later and begin a love affair that is fated to end tragically, but not as tragically as the reunion of Frank and Roddy aboard HMS Winchester in 1931.
Mr. Wheeler's tale is very dark, marching from one unpleasantness to the next, and the characters, other than Frank Jannaway himself, are generally rather unlikable. But it's a brisk and quite readable book and the history of the mutiny is fascinating.