Prague, 1920. Milena's father wants her to follow in his footsteps and be one of the first female doctors in Czechoslovakia, but she is determined to be a writer. She elopes to Vienna with the Jewish music critic Ernst Pollak, and starts a correspondence with Franz Kafka. She leaves Pollak and returns to Prague with her father, where she befriends and translates Kafka. As a journalist, Milena covers the 1923 Ruhr worker's strike and meets the communist architect Jaromir. They marry and have a daughter. Milena writes for a Marxist paper till her husband leaves for the Soviet Union. She then confronts the rise of Nazism in the years leading up to the Second World War, and ends up in a concentration camp.