Kemal's engagement with Sibel is imminent, when the young and beautiful Füsun enters his life. What began as an affair soon becomes an obsession. Nevertheless, Kemal sticks to Sibel. After the lavish feast of the engagement, Füsun disappears without a trace - completely desperate, Kemal realizes that he loves Füsun above all else. Too late, she married another man. After years, he visits her and her family and steals small, worthless objects with each visit: the result is a personal museum, the Museum of Innocence.
Broadly, the novel is a chronicle of the efforts of haute-bourgeois Istanbulis to define themselves by Western values, a pursuit that continues today as Turkey as a whole takes a more Islamic turn.
Fun fact: Pamuk opened up a real museum, tucked away in a 19th-century house on a quiet street in the Cukurcuma neighborhood, that ist dedicated to the novel. While writing the book he collected more than a thousand artifacts that reflect the story, from a tricycle to dozens of ceramic dogs to lottery tickets - all on display here.