Set in the Midwest, by the banks of the Mississippi, it is a novel about life and love, a look at how we are connected to those around us, an exploration of time and history, a story of finding a way back home. Antony Munchner, a farmboy, an orphan, an historian by avocation, has become stuck in the eddies of a backwater. The river of time flows on past him while he searches for a way to rejoin the stream.
“What do you know for sure?” say the denizens of Jersey County, Illinois when they see each other on the street, and one of the many things that Antony does not know for sure is whom his father named him after. All he does know is that it was for someone historical, and his guess is that it was for St. Antony of Egypt, also an orphan, who left the world behind almost two thousand years ago, and went and lived in the middle of the desert.
Antony Munchner is headed for a hermitage in the desert, too, until the ties of family and community call him back, and he falls once more under the spell of those everyday events, and of the talk that goes with them, and of the wise and mysterious Hilary Krieger, the brown-eyed girl next door who has a grand passion for an old-fashioned dance called the waltz.