Esther Sieveking is nineteen, half French, half fox-hunting English. She lives in Surrey among people for whom books are a last resource for killing time, but for her literature holds the world; writing is her aspiration. Then she meets the young author Cullum Hayes, brilliant, plausible, glamorous. He tells her they have met in his dreams. She believes him, and falls in love. But Cullum is a romancer, a cheat, a weaver of stories and a seducer of women.