Michael is a violinist from Rochdale. He plays in a trio in Vienna with Julia, a pianist, and they are much taken with each other. But the trio splits up and they go their separate ways. One day in London, from the top of a double-decker bus, Michael catches a glimpse of Julia. They eventually meet up, and she tells him that she is contentedly married and has a child. Michael persuades her to visit Vienna and Venice with him. He discovers that Julia has become deaf, though her deafness comes and goes. When Michael reads a letter from Julia to her husband, he realises that Julia is never going to give herself to him.
©2005 Vikram Seth (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited