Set in the twilight years of the Czechoslovak communist regime, recalled from the suburbs of Washington, this novel describes a doomed love affair between two young people trapped by the system. Roger Scruton evokes a world in which every word and gesture bears a double meaning, as people seek to find truth amid the lies and love in the midst of betrayal. The novel tells the story of Jan Reichl, condemned to a menial life by his father's alleged crime, and of Betka, the girl who offers him education, opportunity and love, but who mysteriously refuses to commit herself. Through his encounter with the underground culture Jan comes to understand that truth will always elude those who pursue it, and will come only when they least expect it. Hope comes to him from Father Pavel, a priest in the underground church, who opens a door into the faith that has inspired and guided him. Jan is deeply moved by Father Pavel's vision, but distrusts it too. He attends the underground seminars, where the dissidents gather in defiance of the system; but here too distrust prevails. All roads that seem to promise freedom lead to dead ends.But what of Betka: is she the door that opens out of the underground or the door that finally shuts him in? As the story moves to its tragic conclusion the communist system enters its death throes. Jan enjoys freedom at last, only to understand that he has lost the love that would have made freedom meaningful.