'The iron of the bridge felt hot under my hand. The sun had been upon it all day. Gripping hard with my hands I lifted myself on to the bar and gazed down steadily on the water passing under... I thought of places I would never see, and women I should never love. A white sea breaking on a beach, the slow rustle of a shivering tree, the hot scent of grass... I breathed deeply and I felt as though the waiting water rose up in front of me and would not let me go'
As far as his father, an accomplished poet, is concerned, Richard will never amount to anything, and so he decides to take his fate into his own hands in a moment of crisis. But at the last moment, he is saved by a passing stranger, Jake, who appeals to Richard not to waste his life. The two men, both at turning points, and on a whim set out for adventure, jumping aboard the first ship they see, cementing a passionate friendship. Their journeys take them to Norway and across Europe, become firm friends. But it is in bohemian Paris, where Richard meets Hesta, a captivating music student, who enables him to fulfil his own artistic promise.