Noah Selvaggio is an octogenarian widower about to set forth on a trip to his birthplace of Nice when he is contacted by a social worker. His eleven-year-old great nephew Michael, whom he has never met, is in need of a temporary place to stay. Michael’s father, Noah’s nephew, has been dead for a while; his mother is in jail; and his grandmother, who was his guardian, has just died. Michaels’s other grandmother, Noah’s sister, has been dead for some years. Rosa, the social worker, asks that he take Michael while she tries to contact an aunt.
Noah tries to make his trip a reason not to take Michael, but Rosa is able to get Michael a passport and permission from Amber, his mother, to take him. So, Noah reluctantly agrees to take charge of Michael.
Once in Nice, Noah begins to try to track down the origins of some photos he thinks may have belonged to his mother, Margot. During World War II, his father went to the States, leaving Margot and Noah in Nice under Nazi occupation. Later, she sent Noah ahead, following in a year or two. The explanation has always been that she stayed to take care of her father, a famous photographer. But Noah thinks there is some mystery.
Although the pair have lots of arguments, Michael gets interested in helping Noah seek the truth about his mother.
I found this book a quick, interesting read, and a bit more touching than some of Donoghue’s other books. I was interested in the search for the truth and in the characters of the protagonists.