Once upon a time, in a modest suburb of Oxford England, lived a fair and noble woman who had slowly lost her powers. Married to Ted Lively, noted Arthurian scholar and internationally-recognized knave, Diana has forsaken her promise as an architect. She busies herself with her children, with her cottage practice as dollhouse maker, but mostly, with the illusion that her marriage is not nearly the prison her eldest son and best friend are constantly urging her to flee.
Deliverance arrives in the unlikely form of Wally Gold, Arizona’s “Ammo King,” who has journeyed to the College to dedicate a small library of Arthurian texts to his late wife’s memory. Shortly after meeting the Livelys, Wally has a vision. He will sell his ammunitions company and build the King Arthur Theme Park and Museum, in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, next to the London Bridge.
As he knows nothing about King Arthur, or theme parks, for that matter, Wally decides he must have Ted Lively as on-site technical expert. Using the promise of an endowment as incentive, Wally brings Ted and his family to Phoenix. After lodging the family in an empty mansion built shortly before his wife’s death, Wally discovers Diana’s training in architecture. He encourages her to submit a bid for his park, his confidence in her buoyed by a series of affirmative Signs from his dead wife. The professor, meanwhile, sabotages Wally’s efforts, seeking only to return to England. Diana struggles between listening to her husband’s many objections, some explicitly protective, others subconsciously competitive, and embracing her own exhilaration in getting a second chance at something she’d long ago given up. Diana’s quest is supported by her son, Humphrey, an eighteen-year-old domestic diva, who takes on his mother’s reclamation with a fervor usually reserved for the latest peppermint sea-kelp pomade or the newest collection of Laura Ashley linens. Humphrey’s machinations are aided in turn by Audrey, Wally’s seventeen year old daughter, an environmental activist whose blond hair and blue eyes have not dissuaded her from believing she’s Native American, and whose developing crush on Humphrey appears to be similarly delusional. This cast of characters is rounded out by William, 10, a genius with numbers, Eleanor, 4, kleptomaniac-at-large, and Mary Kate, the ghost of Wally’s late wife, whose personality emerges to counter the idealized version her affectionate husband continues to sculpt, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.