The Mall, VE night 1945: the sky is glittering with fireworks and searchlights as jubilant Londoners celebrate the end of their long ordeal. Yet for some the waiting is not over.
Julia Gillingham’s husband, Anthony, has been missing since 1943. A doctor with the army in North Africa, he was captured, taken to prison camp, escaped – and disappeared. Julia has steadfastly refused to believe him dead, and her strength is rewarded when she finally learns that he has survived and is working with refugees in Italy. She leaves her promising career at the London Bar to help prepare the prosecution case in the war-crimes trial against Marshal Kesselring in Venice, so she can join Anthony there and – she believes – rediscover happiness with him.
The war has not damaged Venice itself – unlike the rest of the shattered Continent – but as she learns her way about its ravishing, sinister streets, Julia finds that all her old certainties have been destroyed. As she and Anthony struggle to rebuild a new love on the foundations of the old and secure the future that the war so nearly denied them, they are faced with one difficult decision after another – until, at last, Julia is confronted with the hardest choice of all.