Peggy comes of age in a rat race with another name: meritocracy. The story begins when she leaves her cold and tacky Long Island background behind, graduating from Tufts University. But her background isn't far enough behind. She still carries a drawing she found with her brother everywhere she goes. It needs an appraisal from a major museum but that seems to take too long. She wants to move on to San Francisco, Brooklyn, Oxford. Along the way the urge for going is matched by her urge to follow a man with high ranking in the art world. He is the only one who can give her the attribution she needs, but she has to follow him for thousands of miles. The cooler and more virtuous he is, the more power he has over her life. The meritocracy rewards and punishes in perverse ways.