The Rome Prize–winning author of In the Shadow of the Bridge "evokes a bygone era and an earlier pandemic. . . . An affecting turn in [his] long career" (Publishers Weekly).
This dark, propulsive novel, the crowning masterwork by ninety-two-year-old Joseph Caldwell, takes place during 1992, when AIDS was still an incurable scourge and death casualties were everyday events.
One cold winter night, when the artist Dempsey Coates is on her way home to her loft, she encounters a blaze, several alarms ringing and water jetting every which way from fire hydrants. She ends up offering several firemen a place to get warm. One of them is Johnny Donegan, a passionate lad who falls madly in love with her and is determined, through prayer and sheer perseverance, to make a life with Dempsey unimpeded by the specter of her illness.
But when the couple is finally blessed with an unexpected stroke of good luck, this one twist of fate that promises an enduring future will end up coming between them in a very tragic and unforeseen way.