She was dying of cancer and had only ten days to live. In a moving fictional reconstruction, the book traces two days they spent fulfilling her final wish and the intensity of those final hours in Berlin before she returned to Dublin.
The narrator, Liam makes his way around Berlin with his dying companion, Una. She has prepared a list of places that she wants to see. She has asked him to book tickets to the opera, Don Carlo. She is twenty years older. Their conversations are pressed for time and take on an intimate urgency, allowing for what she calls ‘the rhythm of honesty’.
In small leaps of memory, both Liam and Una reveal things to each other. She speaks of key events in her life - her lovers, her famous father, her alcoholic mother and crucially, the death of her younger brother. The narrator also reveals his own love story and questions arising over his daughter. As the driver, Manfred continues to transport them around the city, meeting people who come to say farewell to her at the famous Paris Bar, the family stories slowly begin to resemble the opera, Don Carlo. It is a journey full of affection and honesty and humour between them, a journey leading to a heartbreaking and uplifting final discovery about her brother at the Berliner Staatsoper.