Days before the outbreak of Word War Two Zygmunt Rapoport brings his 9- year-old son from Poland to London and lodges him with an English family. The son is David Eli Rapoport (called Dovidl), a violin prodigy; the family that takes him in is that of Gilbert Simmonds, a classical music impresario. Gilbert undertakes to provide for all Dovidl’s needs, including the best violin tuition available and, though the Rapoports are Jewish and the Simmondses are not, the continuation of the boy’s religious education.
Zygmunt returns to Warsaw to his wife and daughters, knowing he may never see his son again.
Dovidl grows up happily in the Simmonds household, where Gilbert keeps his promises, treating him like a favoured son. Gilbert’s own son, Martin, the same age as Dovidl, delights, despite resentments, in the brother he never had.
Then in 1951, at the age of 21, hours before his debut concert performance, Dovidl disappears. No trace of him is found, no sign of what happened to him.
35 years later in 1986, unexpectedly and in an unlikely place, Martin finds such a sign. It sets him on a search for his long-lost foster brother, a search fuelled by Martin’s determination to extract what he is owed….