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The title character is a woman from a wealthy New York family who at a young age marries a scholar of modest means. They move to his hometown in Pennsylvania, where he becomes a history professor and later a college dean. Several years into the marriage, after having two children, she embarks on a passionate but extremely secret love affair with a wealthy and affable local man.
As in earlier novels, O'Hara minutely chronicles small-town life in America in the first half of the 20th century, especially its social and sexual mores.
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