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In A Summons to Memphis the characters represent a family and the friends of that family. The father is forced to leave his home in Nashville because of a business disagreement that haunts the family even decades after the incident.

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The family is brought together again when the children are middle-aged. Their widower father has decided to marry again and the two middle-aged but liberal-minded sisters have summoned their brother to return to Memphis to try and prevent the marriage. What ensues is a lengthy reminiscence about the family's move, the father's attempts to manipulate the lives of his children, and finally the children's attempts to tell an aged father how to live the few remaining years of his life.

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