Orange Prize winner Ann Patchett's second novel to be published in the UK. John Nickel is a black ex-jazz musician who only wants to be a good father. When his son is taken away to Miami by his mother, Nickel is left with nothing but Muddy's, the Memphis blues bar that he manages. Then he hires Fay Taft, a young white waitress from east Tennessee who has a volatile brother, Carl, in tow. They spell nothing but trouble for Nickel. Fay stirs up both romantic and paternal impulses in him and Carl is clearly a no-good. But Nickel finds himself consumed with the idea of Taft, Fay and Carl's dead father, and begins to reconstruct the life of a man he never met but whose place he has taken.
Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963. She is the author of The Patron Saint of Liars, The Magician's Assistant and Bel Canto for which she won the Orange Prize 2002. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Nashville Banner Tennessee Writer of the Year Award. She has also written for numerous publications including, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, Vogue, GQ, Elle and Gourmet. Ann Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee.