As the result of a series of fortuitous encounters and circumstances, the Italian writer Giacomo Longhi falls victim to an obsessive curiosity about the famous English artist Julian Sax. He would like to meet Sax, but the great painter is surrounded by an almost impenetrable protective screen. The writer's wife, the charming and sensuous Rossa, eventually takes him to a tea room in London, where Sax spends a few hours of each day accompanied by his children, models and friends. The narrator begins to fear that his wife Rossa might succumb to the charms of this seductive man, who attracts women, paints them and then discards them. In an unpredictable sequence of events, Elkann weaves a fascinating web that blends reality and fiction, and draws the reader into the lives of characters who will prove hard to forget.