After fifteen years, Eva Randall-Collier must end her marriage to her abusive minister husband. But, as a graduate student in New York City, her resources are limited and housing is at a premium. Her situation is further complicated when at a faculty mixer, she meets Daniel Etheridge-Porter, a handsome British journalist and writing instructor, with whom she forges a friendship and eventually falls in love. When her husband's abuse escalates into physical violence, Eva flees her home, and, with Dan's help, takes refuge in a quiet Long Island suburb. Incensed by her desertion and a confrontation with Dan, Eva's husband begins maligning her in their close-knit church community, all in an effort to cover the abuse while furthering his own ambitions. Ironically, she becomes the hapless "wayward wife," not unlike the biblical Sotah who is the topic of her dissertation.