Baricco is an Italian author who treads a delicate line between fables (SILK) and the post-modern novel (MR GWYN). His latest combines both these strands with elegance and disconcerting imagination and proves an absolute delight. In an unknown country at an unknown time, or then it could be Italy at the turn of the century, a young woman arrives at the door of an imposing house and is ambiguously greeted by its motley, bizarre inhabitants, a family with quirks to spare. She is promised to their son and is now of age and come to marry him, but he is away overseas on a mysterious mission of trade. Her interactions with the endearing household are tentative, erotic, cautious and, as days tick by and there is no news of the errant son, soon the past story is unveiled, layer by delicate layer, a story within stories of love, brothels, sleep and art. Opaque, fascinating and delicate, a story that will insidiously grow roots in your mind.