This is the kind of top heavy historical romance that sold in quantities a year and more ago, but that is hard to move today, when a public, sated by the excess of atmosphere and detail, demands at least a well integrated plot and good characterization. This novel falls down on both counts. It is an involved and highly improbable story -- the characters are two dimensional -- the motivation confused. Set in the time of Bismarck, when intrigue and political chicanery were rife, the story traces the tortuous romance of Viktoria, high born Austrian, and Cesare, charming, unstable Italian. Their marriage results in Viktoria being disowned by her family. They go to Cesare's family, near Florence, and there he comes under the influence of Sophie, once his wife- although Viktoria thinks her his sister-in-law. Sophie persuades him to work for the underground- and when, in revenge, Viktoria is responsible for Sophie's betrayal to the authorities, both Sophie and Cesare die -- and Viktoria returns alone to her family.... Despite the elements of melodrama, the story seems ponderous and slow in getting under way. Murray's previous novel was also a story of intrigue, in post-war Europe- published by Mill.