Orphaned as a baby, Elizabeth Ann is taken in by her Great Aunt Harriet and her daughter, gentle, tender hearted, conscientious Aunt Frances who live in a medium sized town, in a medium sized state in the middle of America.
After nine years of constant coddling, timid and wistful Elizabeth Ann is totally dependent on her devoted Aunt Frances whose thoughts and feelings are inextricably meshed with her own.
One day the unthinkable happens: Aunt Harriet falls ill and in order for Frances to properly care for her mother, Elizabeth Ann must be shipped off to the dreaded country cousins, the Putneys, where Aunt Harriet says there are “no good times at all”!
Arriving in Vermont and meeting her reticent Uncle Henry, bouncing Aunt Abigail and no-nonsense Cousin Ann, Elizabeth Ann, who is now called Betsy, begins her own personal journey of discovery.
While driving the horses back to the farm she has her first ever, very own thought; the next morning she ‘gets’ a joke for the first time; she is mystified at the one roomed school where she finds herself in several different grades at once; when her new little friend Molly falls into the ‘wolf pit’ she must rise above her fears; while trying to “help” little ‘Lias Brewster, her heart is first moved to compassion, then gently chastened; and, being accidentally abandoned at the county Fair with no way to get home… well, stay tuned!
Finally, when Aunt Frances comes back on the scene, Betsy shows how far she has come when she has to make an excruciating decision.