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Youngblood Hawke, a Kentucky truckdriver and aspiring writer, moves to New York when his novel is accepted for publication. Publisher Jason Prince assigns Jeanne Green to work with Hawke preparing the final form of the book. She helps him rent an attic apartment in Brooklyn Heights, and in the course of their collaboration, she falls in love with him. Meanwhile, Hawke meets Frieda Winter, wife of a wealthy businessman, at a fashionable party, and they begin a tempestuous affair. Frieda persuades Hawke to move into plush living quarters in Manhattan, and Jeanne, dismayed, accepts a job with a rival publisher. Hawke's novel receives unenthusiastic notices, but he accepts a commission to dramatize it as a vehicle for aging stage star Irene Perry. He travels to Nassau to work with the actress, pursuing his affair with Frieda at the same time. Hawke's second novel, again with Jeanne as editor, is an enormous success. Frieda's husband, who has learned of her affair with Hawke and wants to ruin him, encourages him to open his own publishing house and invest in a projected Long Island shopping center. Hawke's third novel is recognized as a purely mercenary venture, and his play flops. His publishing house stands on the brink of failure, his investments fail, and he is faced with financial ruin. Frieda's young son, Paul, who idolizes Hawke, commits suicide at his private school when he is taunted by classmates over his mother's affair with his hero. To erase his debts, Hawke returns to Kentucky to work on another novel in the isolation of a mountain cabin. The strain of trying to meet a deadline brings him to exhaustion, and he is found unconscious, suffering from pneumonia. Both Frieda and Jeanne visit him in the hospital. Frieda offers to leave her husband and marry Hawke, but he sends her away, having come to the realization that he loves Jeanne.