Three generations of Hungarian Jews with a furniture shop in Budapest: at the center is the love affair of Imre and Gerda. Imre is the elder son of the family patriarch, a veteran of the Great War. Imre greets Gerda when she arrives from Germany to teach; he shepherds her through a sham marriage and divorce so that she, an Aryan, can marry him. He becomes a Christian and has their son Kisfiu, the story's narrator, baptized. We follow family fortune from brief Bolshevik rule in 1919 through the rise of the Nazis, Imre's life in a camp, hiding during World War II, the fate of Gerda and Imre's brothers, the ascendancy of the Communists, revolt, and Kisfiu's growing up.