"He (...) unfolds a portrait of himself in gouache (...) It is a good likeness, he thinks, if a little tragic, and big-eared. She has drawn a man - given him something to grow into."
Esmond Lowndes's father is a leading light in the British Union Of Fascists. In 1937, Esmond is sent down from Cambridge in disgrace and dispatched instead to Florence to set up Radio Firenze - an English-language radio station aiming to form closer ties between Fascists in Italy and England.
Esmond finds love and loss, and his journey of self-discovery becomes increasingly and - as Italy moves into war - more tightly intertwined with the fortunes of Florence, the city he has made his home.
And at every turn, he comes up against the local Blackshirt leader, the brutal Mario Carita.
Episode 6 (of 10)
Esmond receives bad news from England and learns more about Father Bailey and, especially, Ada.
Alex Preston lives with his family in London. His first novel, This Bleeding City, was selected as one of Waterstones New Voices 2010. His second, The Revelations, was shortlisted for the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize. Alex is a journalist and a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.
Abridger: Jeremy Osborne
Produced by Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4.