These four stories display a masterly range of emotional tones, from ice-hard brilliance to mordant wit to sheer lyricism. Marina Sonkina's characters rise from the page to become people we know and understand, although they live at widely distant points of the compass, spiritual and geographical. It's clear that she loves them all, with a passion that forgives their weaknesses. In the title story a painter plants a tree that, as it grows, awakens memories of a lost love . In "Christmas Tango," a chance encounter with a drunk in a Montreal bar sparks a new meaning in a man's life. "Carmelita" takes us to a small Mexican town where a Canadian expatriate becomes a victim of his newly acquired wealth. The tragic lives of a family during the Stalin era in the Soviet Union are followed through the story of a suitcase in "Bird's Milk".