This book tells the story of modern Hungarian society through the interconnected lives of several families in a small town. The families are Catholic, Lutheran and Communist, prosperous and impoverished, admirable and awful. They are linked by their involvement in a petty scandal that became grist for the national press as the Hungarian regime began to topple in 1989 - an episode that prompted the town's popular mayor to take his own life.
Each of the three main parts of the book tells the family history of one of the scandal's protagonists over the last century ... The ups and downs of each family are tied to strengths and weaknesses of its individual members and to the twists and turns of East European history ... At the end of the book we revisit the town and the surviving characters to learn of their fate after a decade in the new Hungary.