In 1964, Jean travels with Avery to the Nile river, where he oversees the dismantling and moving of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel before the Aswan dam floods the ancient kingdom of Nubia. 70,000 people in the Sudanese part of the flood area would lose their villages. This displacement was the result of a choice made by politicians; the moral question of such decisions is also central to the novel.
The third displacement is the story of Warsaw during the Second World War, a city completely and systematically destroyed by the departing German forces. How do we live through such actions and their consequences? How can we compare individual loss to greater devastation?
Michaels explores love, compassion and grief, the emotions that make us -- and keep us -- human. Her prose is breathtakingly beautiful. The Winter Vault is even better than Fugitive Pieces.