Told through the eyes of the orphan Lavo, this is an intricate and powerful story set in Brazil. In the telling, the tale winds a tight and complex course through the lives of the characters. Family ties and loyalties are challenged and the conflicting priorities of father and son clash when artistic temperament squares up to big business.
As we emerged from the Rio Urucara, the sultry air surrounded us with a kind of torpor, and the undulations of the water rapidly grew; the thick rain hid the forest and the horizon. Macau lit the search light and sailed near the left bank. From time to time Jano got up to look at his son, who was stretched out on the deck under the down pour. He paced round the sitting room, bit his lips, and said: 'Where does his rebelliousness come from?' . . . it was as if he was trying to reply to his own hoarse, useless voice, suffocated by the noise of the rain.