Sara Marcello, a writer with roots in Italy, is invited to the island villa of Ugo and Olivia Bellini, two wealthy and worldly antiquarians. In this place of myth, belonging as much to Homer and Prospero as to the present, Sara discovers that she is at the center of Olivia's obsessive desire to possess the secret of creative genius. And, although she doesn't know it, Sara is also replaying the sixty-year-old tragedy of her grandmother, Gelsomina. Gelsomina was sent to America to break up an affair of hers that her family did not want to happen. Like Gelsomina, Sara also enters an unworkable love affair that is only resolved in the last novella. Filled with art, music, and scenes of travel, this book offers considerable aesthetic consolation.