Costanza Ansaldo, a half-Italian and half-American translator, thinks she has made peace with her childlessness. A year after the death of her husband, she returns to Florence, where she spent many happy times in her youth. There she meets Andrew Weissman, an acutely sensitive seventeen-year-old, and his father, Henry, a charismatic physician who specializes in reproductive medicine. The triangle resumes three months later in New York, where the relationships among them turn and tighten with combustive effects that cut to the core of what it means to be a father, a son, and―for Costanza―a potential mother.
A black child born on the US-Mexico border in the twilight of slavery, William Ellis inhabited a world divided along ambiguous racial lines. Adopting the name Guillermo Eliseo, he passed as Mexican, transcending racial lines to become fabulously wealthy as a Wall Street banker, diplomat, and owner of scores of mines and haciendas south of the border.