In 1944 Tom Wainwright, a British soldier, arrives in the small Italian town of Petriano. The war is nearly over, and in the lull before the Allied troops move further north to capture Florence Tom forges a friendship with the Parini family - and in particular with the eldest daughter, Giuliana. When the war ends he chooses to stay in Italy, planning to build a life with the woman with whom he has fallen deeply in love, but in the chaotic, tragic fallout of the end of the Second World War his hopes are dashed. Fifty years later Isabel Wainwright, Tom's daughter, sets off for Petriano herself, to attend a ceremony naming a piazza in her father's honour. But Isabel isn't so much going to represent her father as to try and find him - for she and her mother have heard nothing of him since, nearly twenty years earlier, he went out one day and never returned. She doesn't even know whether her father is dead or alive, but hopes that by discovering something of his past, she can build a picture of the man she hardly knew.