Elizabeth Palmer, the wife of Tom,suddenly recognises that her life has been half-lived. Inspired by Elizabeth von Arnim’s adventures in Rügen, and on a secret mission of her own, she sets off to the distant Baltic island.
Her son William’s life is in crisis. He hates his doctorate, has discovered that its subject, H G Wells, was pot-bellied and ugly and that his pupil, Lucinda, insists on having his child. He must clear out. He would chaperone his mother.
Dr Thomas Ritter, art critic, pamphleteer; a university teacher who enjoys his students, some more than he should, is a success, but Thomas himself is unimpressed. His life has paused. Perhaps following in the footsteps of the painter Caspar David Friedrich would enthuse him. He would visit Rügen.