In the summer of 1957, writer Anna Wulf is welcoming home her friend Molly, just returned from a year's travelling.
The two friends have a lot to catch up on.
Anna becomes embroiled in the conflict between Molly and her ex-husband Richard over their son Tommy's future.
As Anna tries to shake off the painful memories of her unhappy affair with a married man, she finds herself turning them into a story about her alter ego Ella.
Anna finally exorcises the painful memory of her affair as she concludes the story of her alter ego Ella being left by her married lover.
Anna is bombarded by her friends' problems as she continues to struggle with her own.
Then Tommy takes dramatic action that shocks them all.
Tommy's blindness has an unsettling effect on his family and friends.
Anna is once again called in by everyone to sort out their conflicts, at the same time as her own depression and anxieties start tipping her into mental turmoil.
Anna's fragile mental state is made worse by the increasing demands of her friends to resolve their problems.
She does so, to their delight, but her own troubles are increasing.
When Anna's daughter goes off to boarding school, she loses her grip on reality.
Her new lover Saul is equally unstable, and it is only when she buys a Golden Notebook that Anna begins to see a way out of her chaotic life.
Anna finally admits the cause of all her problems - she has been unable to write.
She finishes with Saul, but not before he has given her the first line of her new novel.
Anna and her friend Molly finally find their feet again as they put aside the chaos of earlier times and take more control of their lives.