The novel takes place in the late 1930s and involves William Benning, a young American man who finishes college and has had a strong introduction to the Spanish language. Benning graduates from the University of Virginia in 1937 and has learned about what is happening in Europe in general, and Spain specifically, during that tumultuous decade. His interest in continuing to learn the Spanish language and see for himself what is happening in Spain compel him to begin the improbable journey.
His adventure in Spain proves to be captivating and meaningful, but it gradually becomes more intense and precarious. Meanwhile, Spain is experiencing a Civil War that has deeply divided the country and involved unprecedented violence and suffering. Benning travels through northern Spain where he encounters three young Spaniards, and together they embark on a journey that results in life-altering events.