Although born in Virginia, Willa Cather lived most of her life in the Midwest and set most of her stories there. This story is told from the perspective of Peggy, a teenager in the tiny town of Riverbank. Peggy is good friends with a girl named Nelly Deane. Nelly is considered by many to be the prettiest and most fun-loving girl in town. What happens to Nelly in the ensuing years after Peggy leaves Riverbank for college and then abroad is related through Peggy's infrequent visits back home and the letters she receives from one of the older women of Riverbank.