Clarisse, the novel's protagonist lives with her family in the town's Armenian community. She is the mother of two twin girls and an older teenage son. Her leftist husband works as an engineer and therby provides for a life in safety and moderate wealth.She has no time time to think about her life, the life she'd like to lead or love. Her days are filled by cleaning the house, preparing meals and looking after the children. But this changes when a new family moves into the neighbourhood: a young widower moves to the house across the street with his daughter and his mother. She gets to know him as man that helps out, listens to her and even likes poetry as much as she does. For the first time she begins questioning the life she lives, her marriage and her own dreams. With her neighbor she actually starts to feel happy for the first time ever. But this happiness is not to last as her neighbor falls in love with a woman his age.
Beyond the personal development of Clarisse the book also is a wonderful introduction to the life and culture of the 60's Persia, a country more colorful and diverse than today's Iran. It shows a past that's almost forgotten, being a totalitarian monarchs but still not as reglemented as today's religious tyranny.