In 1916, a young boy, Nathan Longfort, is on the funeral train bearing the body of his grandfather, the Senator, from Washington, D.C., to Knoxville, Tennessee. The memory of this journey will haunt him for the rest of his life. On this trip, he meets the enigmatic Cousin Aubrey, a man of ""irregular kinship,"" the black sheep of the Longfort clan. As the years pass, and Aubrey disappears into the world, Nathan begins to compulsively collect rumors about his faraway life—as Nathan's mother's first true love, a charmer of European society, a Don Juan, a worldly success—and sees it in stinging contrast to his own unfulfilled dreams of becoming an artist. Much later in life, the two men—now old—will meet again.
""It moves at the unruffled pace of a lazy evening's front-porch storytelling . . . each sentence is not merely richly polished but leads to deep veins of hidden meaning.""—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
""One of the great joys of reading Taylor is that you find yourself quickly and willingly seduced by the elegance of language and eye for detail in his writing.""—San Francisco Chronicle