Princeton University, 1980. A young and unambitious librarian named Anna Roth is assigned the task of retrieving the records of Kurt Godel--the most fascinating and hermetic mathematician of the 20th century. Her mission consists of befriending and ultimately taming the great man's widow, Adele, a notoriously bitter woman set on taking belated revenge against the establishment by refusing to hand over these documents of immeasurable historical value.
But as Anna soon finds out, Adele has a story of her own to tell. Through descriptions of Princeton and Vienna after the war, the occupation of Austria by the Nazis, the pressures of McCarthyism, the end of the positivist ideal, and the advent of nuclear weapons, Anna discovers firsthand the epic story of a genius who could never quite find his place in the world, and the private torment of the woman who loved him.