by David Plante

October 1, 2024

ISBN: 9781963101027

About the Author

David Plante grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, within a French-Canadian parish palisaded by its language, a dialect that dates back to the first French colonists, in the early seventeenth century, in La Nouvelle France—or what was then most of North America. His background is very similar to that of Jack Kerouac. Plante has been inspired to write novels rooted in La Nouvelle France, most notably in The Family, which was nominated for the National Book Award. He has recently published two memoirs: Worlds Apart and Becoming a Londoner. His renowned Difficult Women, a nonfiction work that profiles Jean Rhys, Sonia Orwell, and Germaine Greer, was reissued by New York Review Books in 2017. Plante has dual nationality, American and British, and resides in Lucca, Italy.


A lapsed Catholic married to a British woman and living in London, in the wake of the sudden death of a friend’s child, has a crisis of faith and is forced to confront the notion of living on earth as a dismal preamble to living in eternity.

When Ted Beauchemin is summoned back to America to sort through the belongings of his recently deceased parents, he comes upon a photograph of himself at his first communion and begins a reexamination of his life through the old lens of his abandoned Catholicism. Married to a British woman who grew up in India and who came to know religion only as a curious bystander, Ted returns to London to take up his life again working in the foreign finance sector, but soon realizing that his Boston working class upbringing indoctrinated in him the belief that one lives and suffers in this world in order to dwell in eternity. A sudden disillusionment with his secular life is only exacerbated by the death of a child of whom he is particularly fond and who, before he got sick, was meant to make his first Catholic communion.  In the midst of his existential crisis, Ted grows closer to the child’s mother, an American woman married to high-born Scotsman, only to realize that what he believes to have in common with another American is actually a disillusioning fantasy.

As he struggles to find a deeper meaning in his life and particularly his work, Ted often finds comfort in both the vastness and the routine of London, which provides an evocative and atmospheric backdrop to the narrative of his life. But as his work life becomes more trying and his obsession with his lapsed Catholicism continues, Ted begins to find his homelife and happy marriage burdened by the weight of his preoccupations.  And while his loving wife makes every attempt to sooth his apprehension, she realizes that he is becoming more and more disconnected and isolated.  From the acclaimed National Book Award-nominated writer, comes a novel of spiritual reckoning, a subject that David Plante has deeply explored in his fiction.