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When young would-be actor Michael Whistler meets eccentric Jewish artist Billy Zachariah and his consort Rose Tattoo in a London police station, he is drawn inexorably into their life in Westwoods - a house where portraits are painted, lessons are learnt, and fears confronted. The rowdy and caustic Billy becomes a father to him, and Rose a generous mother. Michael longs to uncover the secret history of the pseudonymous (and Catholic) Rose, but he is not prepared for the final scene in this passion play - when Rose has to carry out a life-saving mission that may destroy her. A rich and unconventional three-way love story (with cameo appearances by a miraculous painting and a rubber duck), this novel re-tells the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, travelling through the complex heart of true love, human memory, stigma, mental illness and God.