• The book opens in 1942 with the character of Jenny Fields, who is a 22-year-old nurse.
• The independent daughter of a New England shoe magnate, Jenny dropped out of Wellesley once she learned she was sent there to find a husband.
• Jenny decides to then attend nursing school.
• While practicing as a nurse, Jenny realizes that women are on their way to two things: being a wife or a whore. This realization proves critical later in the story.
• During her time working at Boston Mercy, Jenny realizes that she wants to have a baby--but not have a relationship with the father.
• Many of Jenny's colleagues offer to impregnate her, but she decides on a dying and brain-damaged patient, Technical Sergeant Garp, who is admitted to her care after a war injury.
• Once she becomes pregnant, she is fired from the hospital and forced to return to her...
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