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After his mother dies aged 78, the author discovers a beautifully lacquered box which contains what appear to be old hand-drawn postcards and photos of Venice. One photo of Piazza San Marco particularly catches his eye. It is of a Japanese couple feeding a multitude of pigeons in the square dressed in what looked like 1930's style. Who were they? What relevance did they have for his mother? Armed with the contents of the lacquered box he travels to Venice to track down the places and events in the images and to discover the identity of the young couple in the old photograph.