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“A delectable comedy of manners.” —Boston Globe

The Ridolfi are a Florentine family of long lineage and little money. It is 1955, Italy is still struggling back after the war, and the family, like its decrepit villa and farm, has seen better days. Among the Ridolfi, only eighteen-year-old Chiara shows anything like vitality. But it’s a vitality matched by innocence—a dangerous combination, to herself and to all who love her.

Chiara sets her heart on the bull-headed Salvatore, a brilliant young doctor from the south who resolved long ago to be emotionally dependent on no one. Stymied, she calls on her resourceful English girlfriend, Barney, to help her make the impossible match. And so ensues a comedy of errors, in which guileless lovers, with the best of intentions, considerable charm, and the kindest of instincts, succeed in making one another thoroughly and astonishingly miserable.

“An exquisite mosaic, where every tiny piece is part of a world.” —A. S. Byatt, Threepenny Review

"Clever and dangerously beguiling." The Los Angeles Times

"As intoxicating as a shot of aged brandy . . . a true sensualist's feeling for Italy." The Washington Post

"The fullest and richest of her novels." Time Magazine

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