The story begins in 1962. As rumors begin to trickle out about chaos on the set of the multimillion-dollar epic Cleopatra, a blonde American starlet-beautiful, mysterious, said to be dying-appears at the Hotel Adequate View, a failing hotel on the Italian coast. A short time later, a fast-talking young publicist shows up-and, with him, the roguish Richard Burton, rapacious with drink. Pasquale Tursi, the young proprietor of the hotel, has no idea what to make of the publicist or of Burton. He only knows that he has fallen-hopelessly, haplessly-in love with the starlet.
And it begins again today, in a studio lot in Hollywood-when an elderly Italian man shows up at the office of the publicist, now a legendary producer, asking after the mysterious starlet who came to his hotel fifty years before.
What unfolds from there is a dazzling rollercoaster of a novel, full of Walter's trademark unforgettable characters-from Pasquale and Dee, his mysterious beauty, to the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together, to the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers who populate their world in the decades that follow.