The story is narrated by Sonoko, a married woman living in Osaka. In the beginning of the novel she quickly finds herself drawn into a lesbian relationship with another character, Mitsuko. As the novel progresses, the characters find themselves sinking deeper and deeper into increasingly complicated relationships (as the English title suggests).
The novel was made into the 1964 film Manji, directed by Yasuzo Masumura and starring Ayako Wakao and Kyoko Kishida. The script was written by Japanese film director Kaneto Shindo. The film has been remade in 1983 and in 2006.