On a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, there lives a boy as innocent of sin and the great world as a seabird. Arturo's mother is dead; his father away - we are never quite sure where. Black-clad women care for him, run the house, give him the freedom to come and go as he likes.Then the father returns from the mainland with a new wife, Nunziata, who is in fact a girl barely older than Arturo himself. At first hatred and contempt are all the boy feels for his stepmother, but she responds differently and soon his hatred is replaced by feelings that are strange to him. On this island, as distant from the real world as the fantastical Bermuda in Shakespeare's The Tempest, Arturo and Nunziata recreate the tragedy and passion that are as old as the history of men and women.