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In a house in a quiet street in North London, Helena struggles with her self-appointed task of writing a book about the reclusive American artist Joseph Cornell. At the same time she dreams and thinks about her sister Alice, working in an orphanage in Chechnya. She is certain that Alice despises her for living a life of comfort and privilege, far away from the horrors of war; yet she knows too that her work is more than self-indulgence. How to reconcile these two visions? Enter Ed, a Czech journalist and photographer who claims he has been working in Chechnya and brings news of Alice, along with the request for a bed for the few days he has to be in London... Gabriel Josipovici's sparkling new novel charts the course of those few days, as Joseph Cornell's mysterious life and the strange boxes he constructed wage a silent struggle in Helena's mind and spirit with the imperatives of the present.