Pietro Russell is the hero of the novel, child of an English army father and an Italian mother. The parents met when Pietr0′s father was wounded in the US and British battle with the Germans in Italy in 1944.
Anzio was the scene of the beginning of their love and the focus of the first chapter. The novel moves forward not in a chronological way but alphabetically as, for example, Ibiza, les Houches, Paris and Uzes play their part in Pietro’s recollections. Each scenario almost provides a small story of its own but the entire novel is tied together by a breakdown when Pietro is in his early twenties and recollecting his life in sessions in Oxford with Dr Simon.
Two wars have their place in the novel; the first war is recollected by Pietro’s grandfather in the Mons chapter, the one that, chronologically would come first of all. However, it is the final episode in Zanica that demonstrates Faulks’ mastery as a novelist.