In early 1938 Stephan is ill and leaves Hong Kong for Tarumi where he stays in his parents’ seaside Japanese house to recuperate. At first, he feels isolated in the village and finds Matsu who tends to his needs, too reserved, but as his health improves so does his relationship with Matsu. While he swims in the sea or paints, Stephan-san grows concerned as Japan invades China and its armies rampage south. But he forgets these worries when Matsu introduces him to his friend, Sachi who lives in Yamaguchi, a mountainside village for lepers. As the year draws to a close, is it safe for Chinese to remain in Japan? Will he be able to part from the close relationships he’s formed with Matsu and Sachi?
From childhood, Elena and Lina are friends. Throughout the 1950s, they know nothing of Naples, the city they live in beyond the impoverished suburb they inhabit. Elena struggles to be first in class, but realises she will always be second to Lina. When they reach adolescence, their lives take different directions, but will either of them be able to escape into a different life from their deprived mothers?
This is a compelling step into the Italian mentality of the times, from the limited lives of the women to the overbearing macho mentality of the men who frequently react with violence.