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Naïve young writer Vance Weston, convalescing by the Hudson River, meets Halo Spear and is fired by her passion for literature. They meet again, much later, and, with her rich, cultivated husband, Lewis Tarrant, she introduces him to New York’s literary and artistic circles. But an impulsive marriage has brought Vance poverty and unwelcome responsibilities which inhibit his writing until one summer, Halo inspires him to write the novel which makes his name. The conflict between New York sophistication and Midwestern naivety leads to painful dilemmas, involving both couples in perplexity and loss.