Blanche Devine is a middle aged woman who has lived in the same small Midwestern town most of her life. She decides she wants to purchase a 'real' home in a pleasant neighborhood in the town. Because Blanche has a past as the town's 'scarlet' woman, many of the self-described good and respectable people do not want her as a neighbor. Edna Ferber wrote mostly about women and their place in society along with their plight when they did not follow society's norms. The themes of intolerance, sexism and hypocrisy in this story illustrate Ferber's keen eye regarding the human condition. Told from the viewpoint of an unnamed resident of the town, Ferber allows us glimpses of goodness despite the pervasive cruelty.