As Chase recovers from a nervous breakdown, Chase Philips and her children are cared for by a 20-year-old mother's helper, Elizabeth, hired by her husband, Richard (Beau Bridges). Richard spends most of his summer at work in Boston, returning to the island only on weekends. At first Mrs. Philips mercilessly bullies Elizabeth, until, in a verbal showdown, the girl finally stands up to her employer. A contrite Mrs. Philips pleads that she needs a friend, revealing that her breakdown was a result of feeling isolated and alone on the island. Elizabeth promises to become that needed friend. As the summer lazes on, the two women form a very special bond. But the situation becomes troublesome to Richard when it appears the relationship has gone beyond the realm of friendship. He sends Elizabeth away, leaving Chase feeling lonely, and yet reinvigorated by the whole experience.