'When we were children we had the foolish idea that if we were ever parted each of us would only have to pick up a shell and hold it to his ear and listen to know that the other was alive and well somewhere in the world. My brother maintained that the distant murmur when you hold a shell to your ear is nothing less than the sound of your own soul, for he refused to believe that what you hear is the sea. Which was why Marco and I thought we might hear each other's souls.' Three brothers, born in the eighteenth century on the Greek island of Cephalonia were to spread their wings and soar to impressive heights in their three professions. The middle son Marco's chemistry laboratory in Italy was famed throughout Europe. A whole generation of physicians would recall Giambattista, the tall, thin medical paragon of legendary concentration, who became physician in Italian and French Royal households. Then came the self-confessed black sheep Marino, who in youth strangled a lover in Venice and fled to St Petersburg, where he became a celebrated engineer, executing an unthinkable feat for the Queen of all Russias to celebrate the anniversary of her coronation. He devised the machinery to transport a huge rock weighing three million pounds by water from Finland to St Petersburg to form the plinth of a statue to Peter the Great. With great artistry, Petric Harbouri has brought the brothers Carburi to life together with all their triumphs, tragedies and scandals, and with all the excitement of the new scientific promise of the age.