n Genoa, Agata runs her bookstore and, without meaning to, causes light bulbs and appliances to burn out. At the same time that a younger man declares his attraction to her, her brother Gustav, a morose architect, a distant husband, and an indifferent father, discovers that he was adopted and has a half-brother in the Po Valley. To Agata's great pain, she sees her young man with another woman - plus, Gustav cuts himself off from her and from his wife and son. Agata goes to the Po Valley, meets Gustav's brother and the brother's wife, and tries to reconnect by letting life wash over her. Wisdom comes from traditional Chinese medicine and from good literature.

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