A middle-aged American, wary and on the rebound from a bruising affair, works out in a Paris gym - an ordinary day, except that he catches the eye of a stranger, Julien, a young French architect with a gleam in his eye. To Austin's amused astonishment, life takes on the colour of romance. As they dash between Bohemian suppers and glittering salons, all they have to deal with are comic clashes of cultures, of ages, of temperaments. But there is sadness in Julien's past and a grim cloud on the horizon. Soon, with increasing desperation, their quest for health and happiness drives them to Rome, Venice, Key West, Montreal and Providence - landscapes soaked with feeling which lead, in the end, to the bleak, baking sands of the Sahara.