Meet Sarah Walters, a Camellia Society debutante with a weakness for bad ideas. Sarah's mother lectures her on etiquette but tends to get loose after a few gins. Still, Sarah tries to follow the debutante code - after all, in Charleston, manners mean everything.
But it's not easy to follow the rules, particularly in the summers when she runs into boys in pickup trucks, or, later, when she moves to New York with her friends. For as the Camellia girls soon learn, careers don't always go to plan and men don't always love you back: the bright future they thought was theirs dissolves into heartbreak, illness and addiction. And when a shocking event brings thirty-something Sarah back home to Charleston, she must decide where "home" really is.