Elsie Hathaway is the best student at her high school, she is a leading scholar, musician and now she has extended her dominance to dance and athletics at he end of year performance Elsie dances for the audience and is of course the best and most honored student. When she overhears a former student comment that he wonders what she would do if she was "tried by fire".
Elsie is offended by the remark but ignores him and basks in the comments from others. Elsie lives with her Aunts family, her mother passed away years ago and although she has two brothers and a father, her Aunt felt she needed to be in a family where she would have a woman's influence. Elsie has gotten to the point where she doesn't really know her real family.
When she visits her fathers home to pick up a book she left, she walks in on absolute squalor, the house is dirty, clothes are scattered everywhere, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes and left over food. Elsie is appalled and feeling sorry for a house where men don't know what to do, decides to clean her youngest brother room, but that changes to the entire house and finally to leaving a home cooked meal for them. Over the next few weeks, she returns to cook and clean for her family and finally decides that she needs to step up and move back home so that they will have the influence of a woman's touch in their home.
This story is a chronicle of the changing world of the1920's and what the expectations were for women, even those who were well educated and planned to attend college. They were still expected to know how to run a house, albeit with help. As one reviewer commented, this is not a love story. Its a story of family love and how we feel about helping our family remain stable and productive. And how the influence of a women on men is always better.
Seeing a woman's influence is very much needed in her father and brothers' household, Elsie leaves the comfortable home of her wealthy uncle where she has lived for the five years since her mother's death.