There is, of course, a love story, but before this relationship develops, the author has her sentiments about the Catholic Church. Eduardo is a scholarly older brother, dedicated to protecting his outgoing younger sibling, Ciro. Ciro is a strong character who the nuns adore with his sense of humour and his commitment to earning his keep in the Convent. When 16-year-old Ciro travels to Enza’s village to dig the grave of her little sister, the two meet for the first time, and Enza falls in love. Then when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknown to one another, they both build a life for themselves in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But is it too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to try make a life without him, begins her career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will take her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.
The sequence of events carries us through World War I and the journey of Ciro and Enza, who are determined to make a good life for themselves and their family. The story unfolds into triumph and heart-breaking tragedy.