The demands of marriage come crashing down on Iris and Lily, now living thousands of miles apart, both determined to gain the love and approval of their husbands and acquired families. The fairy-tale life Iris imagined herself living in Italy is abruptly put into focus by her over-protective husband, the respected anesthesiologist Gregorio Leale. Dottor Leale does not take kindly to alternative viewpoints or challenges to his authority, and is disturbed by displays of spontaneity and individualism, stifling Iris's budding sensuality and dampening her innate enthusiasm. Lily's circumstances as Mrs. Joe Diotallevi are even more daunting, as she struggles to comprehend the peculiar dynamic of the close-knit Diotallevi tribe and its protectionist politics. Traditional values distorted by ignorance dictate the simplistic rules of existence which effectively condone Joe's burgeoning gambling addiction and abusive behavior, leaving Lily dissatisfied as a woman, dismayed as a wife, and pinching pennies to pay the bills. Discouraged but not thwarted in their quests for personal development, in their desire to experience motherhood, in their dream of building a life with a man who will love and respect them, Iris and Lily silently stick to their choices despite moments of despair and temptation, shamed by their Catholic upbringing, paralyzed by their fear of failure and rejection, in the hope that a kinder destiny will reveal itself. Traveling back and forth between the Ligurian Riviera and Upstate New York accompanied by the alternating voices of Iris and Lily, chapter by chapter you become the closest confidante of both, delving into each woman's most intimate hopes and fears, and learning more about her private predicaments than she feels comfortable revealing to her faraway sister - or admitting to herself.