Novelist Tony Barrett and his wife Dora have huge bills to pay because of their fast New York lifestyle, so he is eager to get an advance on his newest novel. When his publisher tells him that success has gone to his head and the novel is unpublishable, however, Tony has no choice but to move to his family's run-down farm in Connecticut. Shortly after he and Dora arrive, Polish farmer Mr. Novak and his attractive daughter Manya visit and offer Tony $5,000 for a field bordering the Novak farm. Dora is delighted with the money and wants them both to go back to New York, but Tony decides to stay and write another novel, using the Novaks and their neighbors as models. After some weeks, Tony, who has been drinking heavily, tells Manya that she is not in love with Fredrik, the young man whom her father has chosen as her husband, and makes suggestive remarks that anger her. The next day he goes to apologize and the two begin a close friendship. After Tony's servant Taka quits to return to New York, Manya begins spending more time at Tony's farm and the two fall in love, like "Stephen" and "Sonya," the characters in his story. When Fredrik learns from a neighbor that Manya has been seen "laughing" in Tony's parlor, he and her father forbid her to see him again. She secretly continues to see Tony, however, and when a blizzard prevents her from returning home one night, her father angrily confronts Tony at his farm the next morning. As Manya and Novak return home, he demands that she marry Fredrik the following Monday. She protests that she will not spend her life being an unpaid servant like her mother, but Novak slaps her. The same day, Tony is surprised by the return of Dora, who has missed him terribly during their separation. She hears stories about the previous night, but hopes that they mean nothing until she reads his manuscript. On the night before her wedding, Manya goes to see Tony, but finds Dora instead. The two speak of the book and how it will end, but both realize that they are really speaking about their own lives. After Dora gently tells Manya that she is sure that "Daphne," the wife in Tony's novel, would not give up "Stephen," but would feel very sorry for "Sonya," Manya tells her about the wedding, then leaves. Later, when Tony returns home, he and Dora talk and he asks for a divorce, but she refuses and tells him that the end of his story should have "Sonya" marry her Polish fiancé. When Tony learns the next evening that Manya and Fredrik are being married, he goes to the wedding party and dances with her, then leaves. Later, when a very drunk Fredrik is angered by Manya's lack of responsiveness, he storms out of their bedroom and goes to Tony's house. Manya follows, and as she tries to stop Fredrik from fighting with Tony on the stairs, she falls. Tony carries her to the parlor, where he tells her he loves her. After Manya dies and her grieving family leaves, Dora goes to Tony to tell him that he can now see Manya privately. As he looks out the window, he tells Dora about how full of life Manya was and imagines that she is waving to him. When he turns around, he sees that Dora has gone.