At the heart of Ana Popescu's existence is the love for her son. He is the only thing that makes life in Ceausescu's Romania tolerable. In their mean little flat they have created a private world in which no harm can come to them. But Ana is haunted by a mystery in her own past, and by her awareness under a totalitarian regime the soul can gradually be corrupted. At last as incident at Ion's school convinces her she must send him away.
When she seizes the chance to give Ion freedom, Ana unwittingly propels him beyond bureaucracy into an underworld of refugees and migrants. Attempting to follow, she is caught and thrown into prison. Then the collapse of communism and the overthrow of Ceausescu rekindle her hope for a future, as she leaves her country for the first time and embarks on a quest to reclaim her lost child.
The achievement of Bel Mooney's powerful and ambitious new novel, as it moves across the changing face of contemporary Europe, is that it takes us inside the lives of people caught up in the flood tide of political events. A story of sacrifice, loss and love, it is a moving and triumphant celebration of the power and immutability of the bonds of motherhood and is also about one of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our age.