Raised by a band of con-artists and outsiders, Tooly Zylberberg has always led an unconventional life. Taking solace in her isolated existence, she is currently running a failing bookstore in a small village in Wales when an old boyfriend from New York sends her an urgent message about a man from her past he mistakenly believes is her father. Against her better judgment, Tooly flies to New York City and finds that the message was about Humphrey - a self-proclaimed grumpy intellectual from Russia who helped raise her.
Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable as children in their Calcutta neighborhood growing up in the 1960s. Even so, they are opposites and in their twenties their paths diverge. Charismatic Udayan is drawn to politics and a radical communist movement in India.
In 2005, having something of a quarter-life crisis after working as a staffer on a failed presidential campaign, former Ivy leaguer Will Baker leaves New York City and his long term girlfriend for a year-long English graduate program at Oxford University. Will quickly falls into an eclectic group of friends, and in love with smart and elegant British student Sophie. As his year at Oxford progresses, Will increasingly questions his identity and his future. Charles Finch’s vivid, lyrical, coming of age novel perfectly captures the bittersweet magic of studying abroad.