British station commander John Gay flying from Gibraltar to Northumberland on a routine mission is forced to land at Marseille because of the weather. Here he meets Adrien Revnier, a French colonel whom Gay had known in Washington. Revnier invites him to stay at his home in Canesgne where he lives with his wife, his widowed sister and their children. In this unusual house which impresses him as a ""dilapidated fortress"", Gay spends two evenings discussing the poetry of flight and the mysteries of the weather. Returning from a picnic he also takes a nude swim with Mrs. Revnier and the night before his departure he sleeps with Revnier's sister Rosemonde who is a very romantic creature but who, as a rule, devotes herself to major repairs on the house. Early the following morning he returns to the airfield and resumes his journey. The compelling description of the process of flight does not seem sufficient compensation for the elusive quality of the book's meaning.