Oliver Himmel enjoys a simple, if unrewarding, life in the small town of Acheron, Vermont. If he isn't dodging collections agents, he's more than likely having a beer with his best friend Buck, a bookseller and successful non-profiteer. For better or worse, Oliver has achieved the kind of stability only possible when you've found a rut, and begun to furnish it. But all this falls apart when Carissa, for whom Oliver has long nursed a longing, returns to Acheron and moves in with Buck. Her arrival precipitates a series of mostly unfortunate events that will ultimately send Oliver halfway across the world in the service of Henry Hoffmann, local magnate and enfant terrible. But rather than relief or self-revelation, Oliver's journey serves up a sobering reminder of what he fears most: that he will always be alone in the shadow of other people's love."