College teaching assistant Ruth Tyack is excitedly planning for a new job in Rome when she falls in love with Tom, a poet and guest-lecturer at the college. Despite their intense feelings for each other, Ruth and Tom must part after a single romantic weekend together. Tom is married and has too much respect for his wife and a deep bond with his special needs son. In Italy, Ruth is caught up in a whirlwind romance with Bruno, the scion of an aristocratic family. Their marriage is happy but brief as Bruno is killed in an auto accident and, in her grief, she turns to his cousin Peter. Though initially thrilled, Ruth finds herself married to a traditionalist, one who expects a docile partner willing to overlook his affairs like other wealthy Italian wives. While chafing under the constraints, she's nonetheless mindful of her vows to Peter and her responsibility to their son. As their unhappiness grows, she keeps coming back to her feelings for Tom and her love that has never been extinguished. Having kept in touch with him over the years, she's been deeply affected by his personal tragedy and the anguish he faced as his wife suffered a series of breakdowns and was committed to an institution. Should she remain in an increasingly untenable marriage or follow her heart?