In the early 16th century, a brash, womanising but talented young artist studying under Da Vinci, has to leave town in a hurry, fleeing from a cuckolded husband. Twenty years later, he commences a great religious fresco using a reluctant and recently widowed beauty as his Madonna and a strange love affair develops. In a parallel story, a young orphan girl believes she has seen her future husband when his reflection appears in a well. She describes him to her `grandmother' and they bring the ragged mute to their home and here too, comes love. Each story is told in memorable scenes and the narrative contains many vivid characters. This story of art, beauty and love is suffused with all three for there is art and beauty in the writing and obvious love of her subject by this talented author. At the heart of the story lies truth for the artist is Bernadino Luini and the fresco and its Madona can still be seen in Saronna. Apart from a maybe doubtful climax which had echoes of 'Lord Jim' about it, this was a pair of love stories beautifully interwoven.