Terrified, a young prisoner in the Second World War closes his eyes and pictures himself going out to bat on a sunlit cricket ground in Hampshire. Across the courtyard in a Victorian workhouse, a father too ashamed to acknowledge his son. A skinny girl steps out of a Chevy with a guitar; her voice sends shivers through the skull. Soldiers and lovers, parents and children, scientists and musicians risk their bodies and hearts in search of connection - some key to understanding what makes us the people we become. Provocative and profound, Sebastian Faulks's dazzling novel journeys across continents and time to explore the chaos created by love, separation and missed opportunities. From the pain and drama of these highly particular lives emerges a mysterious consolation: the chance to feel your heart beat in someone else's life.