Axel Vander, distinguished intellectual and elderly academic, is not the man he seems. When a letter arrives out of the blue, threatening to unveil his secrets and carefully concealed identity Vander travels to Turin to meet its author. There, muddled by age and alcohol, unable always to distinguish fact from fiction, Vander comes face to face with the woman who has the knowledge to unmask him, Cass Cleave. However, her sense of reality is as unreliable as his, and the two are quickly drawn together, their relationship dark, disturbed and doomed to disaster from its very start. In beautiful, lucid prose John Banville describes a tragedy so strongly rooted in history and character that, like all real tragedies, it could not happen otherwise The Times

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