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Bedbound in her attic room beneath the falling rain, in the margin between this world and the next, Plain Ruth Swain is in search of her father, Virgil. To find him, enfolded in the mystery of ancestors, Ruthie must first trace the jutting jaw lines, narrow faces, and gleamy skin of the Swains from the restless Reverend Swain, her great-grandfather, to her grandfather Abraham, and finally to Virgil, through wild, rain-sodden history, exploits in pole-vaulting and salmon-fishing, poetry, and the 3,958 books piled high beneath the skylights in her room. Her funny, meandering narrative sings, moves, and irrevocably inspires.