Alice Vavasor should be married to the sensible, kindly John Grey. But despite what her respectable relations might think, Alice cannot quite reconcile herself to this fate. Once upon a time she was engaged to her wild cousin George, and now he stands in need of her money and, perhaps too, her good influence. Meanwhile Alice's friend Lady Glencora has married the rising politician Plantagenet Palliser, but is still pursued by Burgo Fitzgerald, the handsome rascal she loves.
In this hugely compelling novel,Trollope shows the two women struggling to reconcile heart, mind and moral code whilst enduring the stifling scrutiny of their contemporaries.
In a damp Venetian palace, Oswaldo contemplates the ravages of time to his body and his beloved city, and dreams up a way to hold mortality at bay. In New York, Lach steps out into the crisp, clear night to savor his new freedom, having just dropped Vera to join his new love, Francesca, in Venice. In rainy London, Max packs for a precipitous move to New Orleans, in pursuit of Lucinde, a woman he barely knows. From New Orleans, Lucinde flies to the aid and comfort of Vera, who, betrayal or no, has accepted a grant to go paint in . . . Venice. And elsewhere in the Crescent City, Anton, leaving to seek his big break in that other renowned city of water—Venice, of course—sketches a good-bye upon the slumbering body of his wife, Josephine.
With wit, sympathy, and surpassing deftness, Jane Alison choreographs an intricate minuet among these characters, whom love and loneliness, aspiration and desperation, have drawn to two famously romantic, venal, and elusive cities of water.