This is set, both tellingly and affectingly, about a half-century ago, when 16-year-old Cassie, the country maid, comes to serve in an actor's household in London. Though she misses her Gram and the others back home, Cassie becomes attached to kind Mrs. Garside and her family--and to the fine clothes she can buy with her salary. Cassie also takes an interest in awkward Miss Jean, 18, who reads and writes incessantly and who, Cassie can tell, is mismanaging a relationship with a flirtatious young man. Cassie too has a young man, with whom she shares Sunday walks and Wednesday movies--but without a great deal of enthusiasm on either side, as it turns out. To a large extent the novel comes to focus on the touching relationship between the two girls, with each in turn encouraging the other to proud behavior when jilted, with Miss Jean naively attempting to break down the class barriers (""Come have your breakfast with me, Cassie"") and Cassie primly putting her in her place. Cassie's splitting for home in the end is a shock, but not at all arbitrary, as Willard has been completely in touch with her heroine throughout. Her perfect grasp of Cassie's sensibility, and of the very particular yet ambient social background, gives the uneventful story real life and its heroine a very genuine appeal.