England and Italy, 1912. Lucy Honeychurch, a beautiful suburban English girl, travels to Italy on a 'Grand Tour', accompanied by her anxious chaperone, Miss Bartlett.
On arrival in Florence she meets and falls in love with George Emerson, the most exciting man she has ever met, but from a lower class background. Under pressure from her chaperone, Lucy rejects George, heads for Rome, and there agrees to marry another suitor, the elegant and arrogant Cecil Vyse.
Which man will win her heart? Both offer love, and when Lucy returns to England with Cecil, George follows her, despite her engagement. Lucy twists and turns as she faces the dilemma of choice between status and passion, duty and social ruin.