This is a magical novel of a Chinese immigrant's coming to terms with himself, his marriage, and America--and the unlikely moral force that guides his life.
Chai is middle-aged, a disillusioned formed Red Guard who escaped China for Hong Kong and then America, where he works in New York as a banker. He and his wife, Ding, are the parents of an infant and enjoy a contented marriage; he develops a fond obsession with President Calvin Coolidge, the taciturn New Englander whose wry wit and wisdom delights Chai. One day, a chance discovery leads him astray: He learns that a lover from his youth is now in Boston, living with her husband and their son. The son is Chai's very image, and the staid banker is inflamed by the implications of the resemblance. Confused by his emotions, he becomes determined to revive the affair. How Ding schemes to win back her wayward husband--and teach him the necessary truths about love--forms the plot and beguiling conclusion to John Derbyshire's tale.