After both her parents die, Linda Murphy Marshall, a multi-linguist and professional translator, returns to her midwestern childhood home, Ivy Lodge, to sort through a lifetime of belongings with her siblings. Room by room, she sifts through the objects in her parents’ house and uses her skills and perspective as a longtime professional translator to make sense of the events of her past—to “translate” her memories and her life. In the process, she sees things with new eyes. All of her parents’ things, everything having to do with their cherished hobbies, are housed in a home that, although it looks impressive from the outside, is anything but impressive inside; in short, she now realizes that much of it —even the house’s fancy name—was show. By the time Murphy Marshall is done with Ivy Lodge, she has not only made new discoveries about her past, she has also come to a new understanding of who she is and how she fits into her world.