When the terminally ill Kate Montclair reunites with her old friend, Adele Schraeder, at a death discussion group at her local coffee shop, she has no idea that, with Adele’s help, she will soon be secretly planning her “Deathday,” at which she will break Virginia law with an assisted suicide.
Yet the imperious Adele Schraeder is not the only person Kate reunites with at the Death Symposium. Also present is Benedict Aquila, a mutual friend of Kate’s and Adele’s from their days as young schoolteachers in Rome. And then there is the strange street woman in her 30s, sitting in the corner drawing, who clearly has mental health issues. Who is she? She is the Ariadne’s thread that will eventually lead Kate on a journey back through the years to her youth in Rome, to the love affair Kate had with a married man named Michael Cody, and to the catastrophe that took his life.
As Kate, with Benedict’s help, delves into the mystery of this strange woman, Kate discovers that the catastrophe of Michael Cody’s death is a story that is not yet finished—even while she and Benedict discover insidious evidence that Adele’s Deathdays are not always what they seem. With time running out before her own scheduled Deathday, Kate has to decide whether she will trust Adele and take her own life, or whether she will remain alive in order to repair what she can of her past, a choice that will mean undergoing the excruciating suffering she has been so desperate to avoid.