Kate Fenn, a great English beauty, marries a young left-wing Italian doctor and moves to Tuscany where she relishes the beauty of the countryside and the strong family ties of the D'Alessandrias. In the passionate private life she shares with her husband, she calls herself Kate Caterina, trying to wed the two conflicting parts of herself, although to everyone else she is simply Caterina. It is the time of Mussolini, jack-booted Black Shirts, and nationalist fervor." Caterina's best friend and beautiful sister-in-law, Esmeralda, marries a high-ranking Fascist official just as Italy declares war against Britain, and in the years that follow, love and friendships are dramatically tested. Caterina finds herself locked inside Nazi-Fascist Europe with a brother and brother-in-law in opposing armies, a husband who is imprisoned for his socialist ideas, and a small daughter she has to raise alone.