The first part is a fragment of a diary of a San Francisco lawyer travelling near New Zealand in 1850. The second part is a gold digging musical ne’er do well who finds the diary portion in the library of his chosen benefactor. Intriguing already. UPDATE: Basically, treatment I loved this book. Though the unifying theme and the ending are a little heavy-handed, the stories, the characters, the writing are subtly done, completely engrossing and intense.