From a youthful infatuation with a cabinet maker in a small Italian fishing village, to a passionate yet sporadic affair with a woman in New York, to an obsession with a man he meets at a tennis court, Enigma Variations charts one man's path through the great loves of his life. Paul's intense desires, losses and longings draw him closer, not to a defined orientation, but to an understanding that 'heartache, like love, like low-grade fevers, like the longing to reach out and touch a hand across the table, is easy enough to live down'. Andre Aciman casts a shimmering light over each facet of desire, to probe how we ache, want and waver, and ultimately how we sometimes falter and let go of the very ones we want the most.
We may not know what we want. We may remain enigmas to ourselves and to others. But sooner or later we discover who we've always known we were.