Based on an acclaimed, popular historical novel by Dacia Maraini, this 18th-century set costumer follows the adventures of a deaf-mute noblewoman who strives to escape her dark past and the social conventions that force her to remain married to a man she detests. The story begins when the already speechless title duchess is 12 years old. In hopes of shocking her back into speaking, her grandfather takes her to a hanging. The causes of Marianna's affliction are revealed slowly as the story progresses, but the whole truth is not revealed until the end. Though she is much loved by her family, they still force her to marry her ancient uncle when she is only 13. Her wedding night is horrific as is the birth of her first daughter. Her husband is desperate for an heir so she is forced to endure his unwanted attentions until she is finally able to bear him a son. Despite her oppressive life, Marianna is able to find freedom in subtle ways.