Hemda Horovitz is nearing the end of her life. As she lies in bed in Jerusalem, the present flickers in and out as memories from the past flood her thoughts: her childhood in the kibbutz spent under the disappointed gaze of her stern, pioneer father; the lake that was her only solace; and her own two children, one whom she could never love and the other whom she loved too much. Avner, the beloved child, has grown up to be a heavy, anguished man, disillusioned by his work and trapped in a loveless marriage. When visiting his mother in hospital he witnesses an elegant couple's final poignant moments together; after the man's death Avner becomes obsessed with finding the woman, and a strange and delicate relationship unfolds. Dina, Hemda's daughter, has put aside her career in order to give her teenage daughter, Nitzan, the warmth she never received from her own mother. But Nitzan is withdrawing from her, and as Dina slides into despair she is overcome by a longing to adopt a child - a longing that, if fulfilled, may destroy her fragile family.
Zeruya Shalev's electrifying new novel is at once a meditation on the state of modern Israel and a profound exploration of family, yearning, compromise and the insistent pull of the past.