Bone by bone, sinew by sinew, the city of Rome, its refinement, its sensuality, and its weary sophistication is uncovered with the sharp perceptivity only a foreigner could bring to the complex city. Jimmy, a young man of Flemish background, comes to Rome in pursuit of art. But there in the shadowy post-war years he finds instead, a demimonde of internationals and a curious romance with a young girl who, to him, personifies the city. Like a pilgrim, Jimmy tracks down the nature of his reality, and when, at last, he leaves, it is with a poignant realization that reality is, at its most solid, an ephemeral thing. Alexis Curvers writes with richness and understanding, but his novel, as translated by Edward Hymans, is so weighted down by minutiae, so saturated with the aroma of introspection, that it is a burden to read. Particularly since there is neither the compensation of strong action, of vividly sympathetic character, nor of truly arresting ideas. Another ""almost"" novel, literate but not literature, which falls into the error of participating in the agony it portrays.