New York City, 1911. William Dysart, born to wealth and married to a society beauty, longs for a life of purpose, but feels trapped by circumstances and by the wishes of his wife and his domineering father. Having lost his mother as a boy, he's repressed all memories of her mysterious death--but feels his work as a lawyer is something that would have pleased her. Representing the widow of a Wall Street financier, a client seeking to expand her vast Long Island estate, William travels to the small village of Lloyd Neck with a generous offer for Miss Sybil Curtis's cottage and five acres of land. But when Sybil refuses one offer after another, the widow threatens to use her influence with the state to seize the property. Despite his responsibility to his client, William finds himself sympathizing with Sybil. Intrigued by her defiance and disturbed by his growing fondness for her, he tries to unravel the reasons behind the animosity between the two women. William's desire to help Sybil soon becomes an obsession he cannot define, one that tears away the facade of his life and presents him with truths he's unprepared to face.