Rudy Harrington has spent half his life in a rambling Chicago house, raising three daughters with his independent-minded wife. But his wife has died, his daughters have moved away and Rudy is restless. In what he interprets as a moment of transcendent vision, he puts the family home up for sale and buys an avocado grove in Texas. While adapting to his new vocation, new home, new friends he takes up a book - PHILOSOPHY MADE SIMPLE - and begins to struggle with Plato and Aristotle, Hume and Schopenhauer. His newly acquired wisdom is put to the test when he enlists the neighbourhood elephant to preside over his daughter's Hindu wedding and falls in love with the groom's mother.
After receiving his BA from The University of Michigan Hellenga studied at Queens University, Belfast as well as the University of North Carolina before completing a Ph.D. in English Lit at Princeton. He is a professor at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and author of 3 previous novels.