Willard Quail, an American citizen, re-visits Oxford many years after leaving the University so as to look after railroad and other businesses following the death of his father. Now, he meets old acquaintances, such as a former tutor, old Dr. Stringfellow, and comes into contact with a convoluted and seemingly connected bunch of people as he pursues the Fontaney Journals. Quail’s motive and purpose in making the journey may not be immediately apparent, but with his usual wit and skill J.I.M. Stewart leads the reader to the story’s satisfying conclusion. As for Quail? Well, he returns to New York. Mission accomplished?
This novel yields high comedy and mystery surrounding an Oxford College, told by a schoolmaster narrator, and written by J.I.M. Stewart, himself an Oxford Don and master of dry wit and surprise. Supported by his wife, Arthur Aylwin’s desires to be Provost of the College – so much so he is prepared to give up a University Chair so as to achieve it…
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