Author Cynthia Ozick says that this book is a photographic negative of The Ambassadors by Henry James. I've never read that book, but this one is about Bea Nightingale, who re-connects with her overbearing brother Marvin who wants her to travel to Paris and convince his son Julian to return to the United States. She travels to Paris to find Julian married to a displaced person who Bea at first believes to be taking advantage of Julian but comes to believe is a good match for him. Bea also re-connects with her ex-husband, a composer, who has left a grand piano in her apartment for the 20-some years they've been divorced. She takes control of her life by getting rid of all signs of that piano.