Australian teenager Larry Darrell returns from backpacking in India to refuse the privileges and opportunities of his former life. His travels seeking the meaning of chance and death take him to personal growth workshops, a fashionable ashram, the worlds of art and politics, a Buddhist monastery and an Indian saint. Meanwhile his ex-fiancée Isabel achieves wealth and fame when she marries their old friend Gray, a Queensland property developer. By the end of the 1980s they are bankrupt and disgraced. Ten years later they meet again in Sydney, along with Isabel’s camp, domineering uncle Elliott, their badly behaved, grieving old friend Sophie, and Will Maugham, the playwright who narrates this story.