When Valeria, a forty-year-old Roman woman, develops an obsessive interest in keeping a secret diary, she cannot imagine that her habit will ultimately challenge the entire structure on which her life and her family's is based. For with writing comes the dangerous habit of questioning scrutiny. And from these questions, the docile, self-sacrificing woman sees herself and those about her in a disturbing new perspective: her husband, Michele, married too young to pursue his interests, in his fifties a failure, victimized by an embryonic dream; her daughter, defiant, emancipated, and strong, whom she loves, and hates in the manner of a mother approaching menopause who sees her beautiful daughter mature and take a lover; her son, Ricardo, emulating his father's failures; her employer, who falls in love with the image Valeria's new self-awareness projects; and Valeria, herself, always compliant to tradition and martyred to the demands of her family who loves her, but reflects her own indifference to her needs. In the end there is no escape and little comfort. The diary will be burned, for after all, even if despised, the chains of circumstance are binding. This meticulous account of a woman's mature consciousness is revealed quietly and undramatically, but with the certain force of verity.