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Nicholas Coughlan is twelve years old when his father, an Irish civil servant, announces that God has commanded him to become a painter. He abandons the family and a wife who is driven to despair. Years later, Nicholas's own civil-service career is disrupted by tragic news: his father has burned down the house, with all his paintings and himself in it.
Isabel Gore is the daughter of a poet. She's a passionate girl, but her brother is the real prodigy, a musician. And yet this family, too, is struck by tragedy: a seizure leaves the boy mute and unable to play. Years later, Isabel will continue to somehow blame herself, casting off her own chances for happiness.
And then, the day after Isabel's wedding to man she doesn't love, Nicholas arrives on her western isle, seeking his father's last surviving painting. Suddenly the winds of fortune begin to shift, sweeping both these souls up with them. Nicholas and Isabel, it seems, were always meant to meet. But it will take a series of chance events--and perhaps, a proper miracle--to convince both to follow their hearts to where they're meant to be.