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Dick is living on the French Riviera with his wife Nicole and his kids Topsy and Lanier.
He meets Rosemary Hoyt on the beach and he draws her into his fashionable circle.
He invites her to a big party at his house where he flirts with her, but tries to push off her advances.
After the party he goes with Nicole, some of his friends, and Rosemary, to Paris.
Much more partying ensues, World War I battlegrounds are explored and he tries not to fall in love with Rosemary.
After hearing a story about her being with another man, he realizes that he does love her and goes to wait for her at the film studio.
Somehow he misses her, so he goes and calls her, but they don’t hook up.
He’s in Rosemary’s rooms trying to convince her they shouldn’t have sex, when there is a knock at the door. It’s Abe North, and he wants Dick to help Jules Peterson, a black man that Abe thinks he owes.
Somehow, Jules gets shot in Rosemary’s bed while they are down the hall at Dick and Nicole’s place. Dick pulls the body out into the hall (to save Rosemary from scandal) gives the dirty sheets to Nicole, and then calls the hotel manager.
After that, he goes into the bathroom to check on Nicole and she is having a severe breakdown.
We see Dick as a younger man. After studying at Oxford and John Hopkins, he goes to Switzerland to finish up, and undergoes a period of intense study in Vienna, and then receives his final psychiatry degree in Switzerland.
He then does a bit of time in the army, but doesn’t see battle.
In 1919 he’s heads for Dr. Dohmler’s clinic to see Franz Gregarovius and a girl he met about a year before.
He wait in Franz’s office and thinks about the girl’s letters to him. We learn the letters are Nicole’s.
He learns Nicole was raped by her father, and that Dick’s correspondence with her has really helped her.
He visits her and they end up falling in love and getting married.
Then the "flashback ends" and Dick is back on the Riviera after Paris.
He and Nicole are having problems, but things are calm. When they go to the Swiss Alps for Christmas vacation, he meets Franz and they decide to buy the clinic where Dick met Nicole.
After they have been there awhile Nicole shows him a letter from a patient accusing him of seducing her daughter. He denies it, saying the woman is crazy.
Nicole flies into a violent madness and grabs the wheel while Dick is driving and tries to kill him and the kids.
After things calm down, Dick decides to go to a conference in Vienna, but while in Austria hears that his father has died and he goes to the US for the funeral.
On the way to Rome, he finds out his friend Abe is dead.
In Rome he has sex with Rosemary, breaks up with her, gets really drunk, fights with some cab drivers, punches a cop, gets beaten badly, and then is saved from dying in a Roman jail when Baby Warren intervenes.
He has to leave the clinic when his drinking gets out of hand. Then he travels with Nicole before returning to their Riviera home.He has a last meeting with Rosemary, but nothing comes of it.
When Tommy and Nicole tell Dick that they are in love, Dick decides to leave peacefully.
At the end of the novel, he has moved back to the US, and has been struggling to practice, but seems to have settled down somewhere in the New York State area.