This is the story of a beautiful – and in some ways improbable – friendship. John Fleming and Hugh Honour were brilliant art historians who lived in a magical, slightly run-down villa near Lucca. They made a perfect life for themselves, but there was nothing remotely dilettantish about them: they were ferociously hard-working and each produced an astonishing corpus of work. However, they also found time to cultivate friendships and encourage protégés, who were usually male. An exception was Susanna Johnston, née Chancellor, whose arrival in their life came in such peculiar circumstances that it might make for the opening of a novel.