The not-so-secret storms of hyperthyroid Leonella, daughter of ""the Tiger,"" a mad, albeit lusty, impoverished Italian count, in the days of Mussolini. She is initiated into what is for her the doubtful joys of love -- a platonic relationship with a painter and then the Act -- performed by one of a pair of twins who were sharing, unbeknownst to Leonella, their prize. The first extravagant spasm is the result of strangling on a pre-coital chocolate, but alas, Leonella is pregnant and after an exile with an aunt, she finds sanctuary with an elderly music teacher who tries to find her a husband. But she has had enough and carries her trouble to a home for unwed mothers. The narrative oscillates with all the noisy sounds of shrieks, slaps and thuds and other rattles from the washtub of romance.