'For a while, she wasn't sure that her husband was her husband. Sometimes she thought he was, and sometimes not...'
Berta Isla and Tomás Nevinson meet in Madrid. Young and in love, they quickly decide to spend their lives together - never suspecting that they will grow to be total strangers, both living under the shadow of disappearances.
Tomás, half-Spanish and half-English, has an extraordinary gift for languages and accents. Leaving Berta to study at Oxford, he catches the interest of a certain government agency, and its mysterious agent, Bertram Tupra. Tomás is determined to evade the agent's attentions but his fate is sealed by an escalating series of events that will affect the rest of his life - and that of his beloved Berta. Finishing his time at Oxford, he returns to Madrid to marry her, already knowing that the life they planned has been lost forever.
Darkly gripping, Berta Isla examines a relationship condemned to secrecy and concealment, to pretence and conjecture, to resentment mingled with loyalty. With meticulous insight and understanding of the human soul, Marías examines the urge to change our destiny, and the hopeless exile we bring upon ourselves.