As a young man, Juan de Vere takes a job that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Hi employer is Eduardo Muriel: a famous film director, sophisticated and discreet. Muriel's wife Beatriz is a soft, ripe woman who slips through her husband's home like an unwanted ghost, finding solace in other beds. And on the periphery of their lives stands Dr Jorge Van Vechten, a old family friend with a shadowy past. Juan enters eagerly into Muriel's world of glamour and prestige, but as time passes he is troubled by many questions that seem to have no answer. Why does Muriel hate Beatriz? How did Beatriz meet Van Vechten? And what happened in the chaotic years after the war? As Juan learns more about his employers, his own innocence begins to fall away. Though he starts off as a mere observer, he is soon unable to stand on the side lines, compelled to interfere ever more dangerously in the dark interior of other people's lives. Marias presents a study of the infinitely permeable boundaries between private and public selves, between observer and participant, between the deceptions we suffer from others and those we enact upon ourselves.