Zummo - a 17th-century prodigy and creator of figures so realistic they look as though they might draw breath - has spent his life fleeing his past. Summoned to the Medici court by the Grand Duke, a man of holy devotions and hidden longings, Zummo finds himself in a city riddled with hypocrisy and contradictions, where adulterers are publicly flogged, while within the palace walls members of the court indulge their nefarious pleasures.
Commissioned by the Grand Duke to sculpt a life-size Venus from wax, Zummo scours the streets for inspiration. But 1690s Florence is a place of unforeseen dangers and secrets still more devastating than his own, and when a young woman's body is found on the banks of the Arno, Zummo suspects that the source of vice has its bed in the Medici court. As he proceeds with his creation, he begins to wonder whether this perfect woman will be his salvation or his downfall.
Set in a Florence blighted by corruption and austerity, Secrecy is a tour de force of whispered pleasures and startling revelations. It is a scintillating, breathtaking read from a novelist at the height of his powers.