It is 1930s rural Ireland, and after the death of her beloved father, fifteen-year-old Eleanor, her younger sister Alice, and their grief-stricken mother give up their farm and livelihood to live with Eleanor's aunt, a successful small-town milliner. Ellie is now free to indulge her longing to explore the world, to go to college and learn, earn her own living, perhaps to follow in her aunt's footsteps and learn a creative trade. Eventually Ellie and her aunt persuade her mother to send her and Alice to America, to live with their uncle and his wife in their guest house in Manhattan. But soon after arriving it is clear that Ellie will be nothing but a glorified slave in her uncle's house, working all hours cleaning, washing and running errands. Ellie despairs when Alice is singled out for âeducation' and sent to school, while Ellie stays at home to be taunted by her 'educated' teenage cousin. One night Ellie decides to make a run for it. She packs her bag and boards a train to Boston, where Violet, a rich girl she met on the boat trip from Ireland, lives. Ellie hopes that with Violet's help she can fulfill her dreams...even it means leaving her family behind.