The autobiographical story of Carlo Gebler's troubled relationship with his father and the gradual uncovering of the mystery that shadowed his life.
The story spans nearly a hundred years. In Carlo Gebler's early childhood, his relationship with his father, Ernest, was a disaster. A man of the left, Ernest's politics had been 'hammered out in the nineteen thirties'. His early life as the son of a Jewish immigrant was spent working as a rat catcher in a cinema, snatching moments alone to educate himself, but the one with the literary talent was his second wife, Edna O'Brien - Gebler's mother - who left after Ernest claimed authorship of her work. As his father saw it, Carlo and his brother Sasha were over-fed members of the bourgeoisie, and toys and sweets were banned from their lonely childhood, filled with memories of abuse and neglect. Years later, on hearing his estranged father was now senile, Gebler made the journey to southern Ireland and through his past, through diaries that confirmed Ernest's hatred for his sons, yet also revealed the abuse Ernest in turn suffered as a young man, a life of extreme poverty and the abandonment of his first wife. This not a story that ends in hate; by the time Carlo Gebler reached their final years together, he no longer felt the anger that had dogged their relationship.