Preceeded by rumors of magnificence, Oliver Powell arrives at the Plas Pant Hostel in northern Wales, stirring up among the inmates--pensioners and assorted types down on their luck--intimations of excitement and grandeur. Powell's progress towards incorporating the faded aspirations of these various down-and-outers into his own schemes is narrated by Harri Thomas, would-be author and porter at Plas Pant. As everyone comes to suspects Powell is a confidence man, though without malice, a well-intentioned ""man of many failures."" He is forced eventually to move on, leaving in his wake a trail of wreckage, including Harri's shattered romance. This charming catalyst of calamity is accepted too readily and excused (as an ""innocent"") too quickly by the protagonists to be altogether satisfying in an otherwise unpretentious, half-amusing, half-wistful second novel.