Erneste is the perfect waiter-and his private life seems to embody the qualities he brings to his profession. But inwardly this polite and dignified man is in the grip of a violent passion, aroused thirty years before, when he fell in love with a young waiter-in-training named Jakob. Jakob broke his heart when he fled Nazidominated Europe for a new life in America with his lover, Julius Klinger, a celebrated German intellectual. Nursing his wounds, Erneste slinks even deeper into his well-ordered world, hardening into what had only previously been a role. And then, after decades of silence, he receives a letter from a distraught and penniless Jakob asking for help. And Ernest must decide if he will finally take action. Set against the backdrop of a genteel Swiss hotel, and moving skillfully between two time periods, this exquisitely written story of a lifelong passion is rich in tension and emotion, exploring the nature of love and betrayal, memory, and regret.