Simon Magus is the poignant and magical story of an outcast called Simon, who is treated with a mixture of fear, suspicion and guarded affection by the Jewish and Christian inhabitants of a village in 19th century Poland. It is also the story of the village itself, a community in crisis now that the railway has arrived, passing the village by, taking away all its trade, and threatening its future.
Simon has visions and strange dreams, a fantastical view of the world. For some villagers, Simon is a harmless idiot, but in a place where people still believe in angels and charms, to others he is a magician in league with the devil himself.
The crisis comes in the battle to build a railway station and save the village. Maximillian Hase, moneyed, ruthless and determined to succeed, uses Simon's feelings of isolation to his own ends, employing him as a spy to root out his competition in the village's Jewish community.
The Christian Squire, a sensitive and lonely man with a passion for poetry, must be persuaded to allow the station to be built on his land. Dovid, a poor young Jew, realises that an appreciation of poetry is the way to succeed in the railway station bid. Only the city educated Sarah from the Jewish community shares this passion for poetry, but she and the Squire have never yet spoken. Dovid enlists Sarah's help to secure his bid.
Simon is seduced by Hase's bribes and is unwittingly playing a critical role in the battle for the railway. . .