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At the height of World War II, the Women's Institute club of Denley, England learns that American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt will be visiting their village the next day to inspect its various homefront activities. The women are thrilled to have been selected to represent their country and agree to keep Mrs. Roosevelt's visit a secret as a security precaution. As the women busily begin preparing the village hall for their visitor, Margaret Ellis, the daughter of the group's vice-president, Elizabeth, finishes a long day of wartime farm work. Meg has been helping Bob Tyndale on his farm, Marsh Manor, and despite a twenty-five year gap in their ages, has agreed to marry him. Meg has not publicly announced her engagement, however, fearing the reaction of Bob's sister Jane, an embittered spinster who resents Meg's presence at the manor. When Meg confides her apprehensions to her mother, Elizabeth advises her to follow her heart, but endorses Bob as a good marital choice. Although she loves her husband, Capt. John, a perptually unemployed alcoholic who lives in his memories of World War I, Elizabeth is anxious for Meg to find financial and emotional security. Unlike his wife and daughter, John yearns to be free from responsibility and is shamed by the hard work his wife and daughter do without complaint. Meg's romantic confusion is increased when her former lover, Geoffrey Winthrop, an officer in the British army, arrives in town on a three-day pass. Geoffrey, whom Elizabeth feels is too "wild" for Meg, is unaware of Meg's relationship with Bob and, having been stood up by her the night before, demands an explanation. Meg refuses to reveal the truth about Bob, but later, Nora Mumford, the local pub owner, tells Jane about the engagement during an argument and Geoffrey overhears the news. After Jane accuses Meg of gold digging, a stunned Geoffrey receives notice to report for immediate duty. While the women are seeing to last-minute details at the hall, John is at Nora's pub drinking and regaling a group of American and Scottish officers with stories of the last, "good" war. Later, a drunken John tries to steal money from a woman's purse after he is refused credit by the barmaid and is caught in the act and arrested. Meg, meanwhile, is called to the road to serve tea to Geoffrey's departing regiment. There Meg finally reveals to Geoffrey her fears about repeating her mother's marital mistake, but he advises her not to base her future on her parents' past and presses her to admit her love. After Meg recommits herself to Geoffrey, John returns home to find an exhausted Elizabeth sewing a dress for Joan Riley, the little girl who is to welcome Mrs. Roosevelt. Although John denies his guilt in the theft, his shame over the matter soon drives him out of the house. Later, a distraught Elizabeth admits to Meg her fears about John's state of mind, and Meg rushes to find her father in the surrounding woods. As John is about to jump into a pond, Meg surprises him and, pledging that she and Elizabeth will stand by him, convinces him to face his shame. The next day, while the village descends on the hall to greet Mrs. Roosevelt, Elizabeth persuades John to accompany her to the ceremony. With her husband and daughter by her side, Elizabeth beams with teary pride as Joan welcomes Mrs. Roosevelt on behalf of the women of Denley.