Boston spinster Charlotte has had her life controlled entirely by her wealthy mother, Mrs. Henry Vale. Feeling despondent, she's convinced to spend time in a sanitarium. Soon she is transformed into a sophisticated, confident woman. On a cruise to South America, Charlotte meets and begins an affair with Jerry Durrance, a married architect. Six months later, she returns home and confronts her mother with her independence. One day, after a brief argument, her mother has a heart attack and dies. Charlotte inherits the Vale fortune but feels guilty of her mother's death. She returns to the sanitarium, where she befriends a depressed young adolescent, Tina. The young girl's depression was brought on by being rejected by her mother--Charlotte's former lover Jerry's wife. Charlotte takes Tina home to Boston with her.