Nathan Longfort, the narrator of this story, is a middle-aged art professor. Looking back over his life, he summons up one of the most vivid incidents a train ride from Washington to Knoxville at age nine. On board are members of his family; the body of his grandfather, a famous Senator; and Aubrey, a cousin scorned by all the relatives because of his illegitimacy and his nonconformity. Because he is so different, this mysterious man assumes a large role in the narrator's imagination. This deftly written novel by the late Peter Taylor shows how self-destructive it is to compare our life with another's.