Young Gabriel Walsh has been uprooted from his poverty-stricken life in Dublin and transplanted to a castle in Tarrytown, New York State. This reversal of fortune has come about through Margaret Burke Sheridan, a retired opera diva who in her prime sang at La Scala and was Puccini’s favourite Madame Butterfly. Having met the boy at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel where he worked as a waiter, Maggie persuaded her wealthy American patrons, Ruth and Emerson Axe, to become his guardians and take him to America.
In Tarrytown Castle Gabriel finds himself living in a kind of limbo, situated as he is somewhere between being family and servant, between Irish and American culture. He encounters new experiences such as going to high school, the theatre, the opera and meets and dines with many renowned figures in his new home. Gabriel soon discovers that his guardians have an ambition for him to inherit their highly successful financial business. His future reeks of wonderful possibilities but his upbringing in Dublin still haunts him like an impoverished ghost. To escape his dismal childhood, he used to frequent the damp cinemas of Dublin, leaving him with a natural tendency to be a dreamer. But if Gabriel decides to follow those dreams he knows it will be against the wishes of his benefactors and he will possibly lose the security he has just found. This extraordinary sequel to Maggie’s Breakfast follows Gabriel’s struggle for individual identity in the land where dreams come true.