Jerry Ryan, an attorney from Nebraska. A melancholy man of thirty-three, he fled Omaha and an unhappy marriage to start over in New York City. Jerry owes much of his success to the intervention of others, especially his father-in-law, but he is now determined to do things for himself and for others. After meeting a young woman named Gittel at a party, the unlikely duo begins a nine-month-long rocky romance that is complicated by Gittel’s unwillingness to let Jerry help her financially and by Jerry’s emotional ties to his wife, which remain even after their divorce is granted. In the end, Jerry realizes that he still loves his wife and returns to Nebraska for another chance at life with her on his terms, not hers or her father’s.
Gittel Mosca, a twenty-nine-year-old aspiring dancer who lives on unemployment insurance and income from various temporary jobs. She has spent much of her adult life as a victim, playing that role in a failed marriage and numerous doomed relationships. At first, she resists Jerry’s willingness to help her, including his offer to pay rent on a loft Gittel wants to use as a rehearsal hall for a dance recital that could be her big break. Jerry eventually changes her mind about accepting help from others, and he makes her think, for the first time, about setting specific goals. When Jerry suspects her of sleeping with another man, they almost break off their relationship. Gittel’s bleeding ulcer acts up, however, and Jerry nurses her back to health. Even though Gittel loves Jerry, she knows that he will never love her as he loves his former wife, so she decides that they should go their separate ways.