From 1886 to 1907 in the life of Sofie, a Jew in Copenhagen who is nearly 29, with no marital prospects, living with her loving parents. An artist, Hans Hojby, meets Sofie and is entranced, asking to paint her parents and also sketching her. She's responds, but he's not Jewish, and the family reacts by encouraging a marriage to Jonas, a homely draper. Sofie accepts this plan, accompanying her new husband to his town and bearing a son. As he withdraws in mental illness, Sofie begins an affair with his brother, and later returns to live with her parents. A confrontation with Hojby is inevitable as is her son's growing into adulthood and forming his own ideas about religion.