We are told at the beginning of the novel that Ariane is a figment of his imagination, yet we learn her life story in intimate detail and the lines between reality and imagination are blurred throughout the story. Named for Ariadne, the heroine of Greek myth who helps Theseus escape the Minotaur, Ariane begins as the promiscuous beauty of the fictional town of Babbington, Long Island. We follow as she tries to escape her demeaning job at a clam shack and bad-girl reputation, going through several phases of personal examination and reinvention. Ariane is an energetic storyteller, and she relates her story to Leroy and the reader through a series of funny and poignant episodes that explore the power of personal fantasy. In one sequence, Leroy's grandfather, with Ariane's help, comforts his dying wife by pretending their home is a ship making the journey to the tropical destination of Rarotonga. Later, we learn that much of Ariane's life has been a public exhibition in a very literal way. As Ariane weaves her story, Leroy acts as a foil and guide, often finishing her sentences and filling in details.