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This bittersweet tale begins when the successful Professor Godfrey St. Peter and his wife move into a comfortable new house. On the eve of the move, Godfrey analyzes his life, family, and friends: his two daughters' marriages have removed them from the home, and the loss of his most outstanding student (and once son-in-law to be) leaves him feeling without purpose. His desire to stay in his old study and cling to what used to be sparks deep introspection in a story that explores a mid-life crisis and family life in a 1920s Midwestern college town.