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In Lynnboro Vermont, in Spring, 1925, idealistic college student Ives Towner is in love with Julie Wier, but doesn't want to get married until he amounts to something. Two years later, at Christmas, Julie has become impatient waiting and yearns for something exciting to happen. When she gets lost on the Old Mill Road during a snowstorm, she finds shelter in a cabin inhabited by New York writer Michael Shaw, who has come to work in a quiet place. Because Michael is suave and handsome, Julie becomes infatuated, as does Michael, who thinks of her as a fresh piece of paper on which to write. They elope the next day, breaking her Aunt William's heart, as well as Ives's. William wants Ives to go after Julie because she knows that the girl has made a mistake, and he does, but leaves without speaking to her when he sees her laughing happily with Michael. Michael and Julie then move to Paris, where the whirl of parties and constant drinking keeps him from writing. Tiring of their empty Bohemian existence, Julie yearns for a quieter life with their baby daughter Michael. At a party in 1930, during a mock duel, Michael is accidentally shot and killed by an artist friend. In 1937, Julie is a fashion designer, still living in Paris, but broke because she cannot get a French work permit. When she receives a letter from William enclosing news reports about Ives' research and a check for money to visit America, she decides to return home. Ives is now a biology professor and a cynical bachelor. When Julie sees her aunt again, William tells her that Ives still is in love with her, unaware that he has recently caught the eye of coed Brenda Lane, who regards herself as "Heloise" and Ives as "Abelard." When Julie meets Ives again, his disillusionment with her and love will not allow him to be warm toward her. Later, when he sees Brenda in the woods, she says her feelings for him are "almost holy," words he had spoken to Julie years before, and he takes her to a roadhouse, gets drunk and kisses her. Brenda's fresh outlook changes Ives and he calls Julie and asks her to go to a faculty dance, the first one he has ever attended. Meanwhile, Brenda goes to his house and learns from his mother where he is and decides to go to the dance herself. Seeing Julie and Ives dancing, she becomes jealous and throws a glass of champagne in Julie's face, after which Julie runs out into the rain. Ives follows her and they admit that they still love each other, then rush home to tell Aunt William that they plan to marry that night. William is ecstatic, but little Michael overhears them and makes a scene because she thinks that Ives doesn't live up to the beautiful image of her father that Julie created. At the same time, Ives' mother and sister Carol arrive to stop the wedding because Mrs. Towner thinks that Brenda, whose father is a trustee, would be a better influence on her son. After they leave, Budge Williams, a student in love with Brenda, shows up and says that Brenda tried to kill herself over Ives. Julie tells Ives that she put them on the wrong road ten years ago and they cannot go back, then, when Ives tries to convince her otherwise, she suddenly bolts and wildly drives Budge's car, with Brenda in the back seat, to the Old Mill Road. During the ride a frightened Brenda admits that the suicide attempt was a ploy to make Ives feel bad. Finally, Julie and Ives are married, while William makes little Michael realize that Ives is a good man and should be her new father.