In the narrow alleyways of the Old Town of Damascus, there is a rumour circulating – Nura, beautiful wife of famous calligrapher Harrid Farsi, is reported to have run away. Why would she leave behind a life that was the envy of so many? Or has she been kidnapped by one of her husband's many enemies?
Even as a young man, Farsi is celebrated as a prodigious talent in the world of calligraphy. To him, the beauty of Arabic poetry finds its purest expression in the exquisite beauty of the calligrapher's art, yet, as time goes by, he can't help but realise the limitations and anachronisms of the Arab language. As part of a secret society of initiates, he plots radical reform, little realising the risk he is running. Unwavering in his ambition, he throws himself into his work to make his great dream of reform a reality. Nura has no idea of the plans that drive him. All she knows is his dismissive, miserly side, that of a man who, after their wedding night, treats her like a maidservant. Small wonder that she is flattered by the attentions of Salam, a bright young apprentice in her husband's workshop. It is the beginning of a passionate love affair – the love between a Muslim woman and a Christian man.