Edmond Music, Catholic priest and director of Beale Hall research institute, has a secret: he doesn't believe in God. And that's not all. For the past forty years he has shared a bed with his housekeeper, Maude Moriarty from Donegal. In fact Edmond Music isn't even Edmond Music. He's Edmond Music, French child of Hungarian parents - and a Jew.
As he sees out his days in his Shropshire mansion, devoting his time to kabbalistic studies, his buried pasts threaten to end the charade. Fred Twombly, professor of English from Joliet, Illinois, and half-century-long enemy, has arrived, determined to destroy him. What may be Shakespeare's lost masterpiece has disappeared from the Hall's famous library. Edmond must be to blame.