When talented young writer Nathan Zuckerman makes his pilgrimage to sit at the feet of his hero, the reclusive master of American Literature, E. I. Lonoff, he soon finds himself enmeshed in the great Jewish writer's domestic life, with all its complexity, artifice and drive for artistic truth. As Nathan sits in breathlessly awkward conversation with his idol, a glimpse of a dark-haired beauty through a closing doorway leaves him reeling. He soon learns that the entrancing vision is Amy Bellette, but her position in the Lonoff household - student? mistress? - remains tantalisingly unclear. Over a disturbed and confusing dinner, Nathan gleans snippets of Amy's haunting Jewish background, and begins to draw his own fantastical conclusions...