This is a moving journey of discovery, a remarkable novel of Venice, and a rich story of the explosive possibilities of change in all of us, at any time.
Julia Garnet is a teacher. Just retired, she is left a legacy which she uses by leaving her orderly life and going to live for the winter months in Venice. Its beauty, its secret corners and its people overwhelm a lifetime of reserve and caution. Above all, she finds herself touched by the prevalent spirit of the angel Raphael.
Parallel to Julia Garnet's journey is that of another traveller, also aided by Raphael. Tobias, growing old and blind, is determined that his son, accompanied by the appropriate companion, should go to the far country and recover the family debt, thus allowing his father to die in peace.
The two stories - the contemporary revelations and the Persian myths - interweave with parents and landladies, restorers and priests, American tourists and ancient travellers abounding - all watched over by Miss Garnet's angel.
Salley Vickers' novel is an enormously satisfying journey on every level and allows us to believe that people can change and that forgiveness is a powerful force.