Author(s): David Leavitt
It is the summer of 1940, and Lisbon is one of the only neutral ports left in Europe - a city filled with spies, crowned heads and refugees of every nationality, tipping back absinthe to while away the time until their escape. Awaiting safe passage to New York on the S. S. Manhattan, two couples meet- Pete and Julia Winters, expatriate Americans fleeing their sedate life in Paris; and Edward and Iris Freleng, elegant, independently wealthy, bohemian, and beset by the social and sexual anxieties of their class. Swept up in the tumult, the hidden currents of the lives of these four characters - Julia's status as a Jew, Pete and Edward's affair, Iris's increasingly desperate efforts to save her tenuous marriage - begin to come loose. This journey will change the four of them irrevocably, as Europe sinks into war.