Opera singer Elizabeth Erdman is separated from her husband and experiencing extreme pain in her left breast and left ovary, pains for which no physical cause can be found. She is sent to Sigmund Freud in Vienna for analysis, and he begins to conduct a case study of her under the name of "Frau Anna G." Included in his case study is a journal Erdman has written in which she details an extremely violent, nearly pornographic fantasy she had during her stay at Gastein with her aunt. This journal provides many of the clues to his analysis, although some aspects of it remain unexplained.
Following her analysis, Elizabeth ("Lisa") returns to her music career and attempts to live out the rest of her life. Convinced that she must never have a child, and stricken with severe hallucinations whenever placed in a position where conception would be possible, she lives a quiet life with her aunt until middle age, when she moves to the Ukraine to marry a fellow opera singer and become mother to his young son. The shadow of WWII hangs over them, as the troubles for dissidents and Jews in Eastern Europe are just starting to begin.
Although some of the characters in this book are based upon real people (such as Freud), this is a work of fiction.