This book is a snapshot in history showing the fall of the Spanish political system, the very bloody civil war and the rise of a new government. The authors do a fabulous job of interweaving all the parts and characters virtually seamless. Every person and event has a purpose pertaining to the two main characters of the book.
1993: in a country rocked by corruption trials involving government, big business and the Vatican, people in the idyllic small city of Urbino, Raphael's birthplace, appear more concerned with love affairs than politics, their only worry an outbreak of spurious miracles. Then Count Malaspino returns after years away and his support for the restoration of Raphael's La Muta ('the mute woman') drives a living mute to an act of violence that triggers ugly rumours. Does this woman know something terrible about Malaspino's past? Did she witness a literally 'unspeakable' crime that could shatter the peace of Urbino? Her continued silence seems to be in everyone's interest except that of the gentle art restorer Charlotte Penton - and a television crew fronted by Donna Ricco, who can't shut up to save her life...or anyone else's.
French film director Vadim is perhaps best known in America for his choice of wives and lovers. Here he tells all, in gossipy detail, about the three most famous: wives Bardot and Fonda, and lover Deneuve, as well as second wife Annette Stroyberg. He downplays his own reputation as a Svengali, recounting scandalous incidents in his flamboyant life in an episodic style with a light and amusing touch. Bardot comes across with a childlike charm, and Fonda as a disciplined actress with a total commitment to work and causes. Deneuve and Stroyberg fare less well, but Vadim is not generally negative or vindictive about any of his attachments. Lightweight, but it may have an audience.