Margie Krebsbach dreams up the idea of a trip to Rome, hoping to get her husband Carl to make love to her - he's been sleeping across the hall and she has no idea why.
She finds a patriotic purpose for the journey. A Lake Wobegon boy, Gussy Norlander, died in the liberation of Rome, 1944, and his grave, according to his elderly brother, Norbert, is in a neglected weed patch near the Colosseum.
So it's decided they will go to clean Gussy's final resting place.
But Margie is unprepared for the enthusiastic response - fifty people want to go with her, including her nemesis, the mayor of Lake Wobegon, Carl's bossy sister, Eloise, Mr. Berge the town drunk, and her treacherous mother-in-law.
Margie fends off some of the would-be travellers, but ten applicants remain, though Carl is not sure he wants to go after all.
At this, a heartbroken Margie gets the motley crew to the airport and aboard the plane, and then discovers one of the secret pleasures of travel - as they enter alien territory, safely away from Lake Wobegon, they tell each other stories of astonishing frankness and self-revelation.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 304 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 01/12/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571252404
- Paperback from £6.35