Elizabeth von Arnim's novel tells the story of four dissimilar women in 1920s England who leave their damp and rainy environs to go on a holiday to a secluded coastal castle in Italy. Mrs. Arbuthnot and Mrs. Wilkins, who belong to the same ladies' club but have never spoken, become acquainted after reading an advertisement for villas for rent in a newspaper. They find some common ground in that both are struggling to make the best of unhappy marriages. Having decided to seek other ladies to help share expenses, they reluctantly take on the waspish, elderly Mrs. Fisher and the stunning, but aloof, Lady Caroline Dester. The four women come together at the castle and find rejuvenation in the tranquil beauty of their surroundings, rediscovering hope and love.