Julian and Martha are the children of a broken marriage, with a father who is a famous, but obnoxiously self-centred, opera singer. Julian, brought up by his mother, in England, meets Sara, his future wife, on the eve of his father’s funeral, in Italy. On that same night, Martha, who had followed in her father’s footsteps, albeit using the stage-name Daniela Varga, suddenly abandons her glittering career to take up again with her childhood sweetheart, Giovanni. He is now dangerously involved in radical political organizations and Martha’s life becomes that of a fugitive from the State.
A quarter-century later, Duncan Grant, a university professor of music, who in his youth had known and admired the siblings’ father, writes a sensational book about Martha’s life which, for several reasons, threatens to derail Julian and Sara’s by now fragile marriage. The book brings him into the literary limelight, but it is loathed by Julian and his family for it re-opens old wounds; a past that Julian had buried but never come to terms with.
It is during a long-postponed holiday to Venice, with his wife Sara now seriously ill, that Julian – an Italian who has spent most of his life in England – rediscovers within himself the will to live, to ‘fare forward’, whatever the hazards. As he watches Venice approaching, he is able to see how past, present and unknown future are deeply inter-fused in a final, life-affirming vision…
Enrico Palandri’s novel opens up Italy's turbulent recent political past as well as three decades of crisis, drama and tragedy that have engulfed the lives of its protagonists, regardless of their wishes or even their whereabouts.