Lucy Honeychurch, an upper middle class girl, and her cousin, Charlotte, travel from England to Italy on vacation. While on the trip, the two women share a guest house with a man and his son George Emmerson. After switching rooms to offer the women a better view overlooking the scenic river, the Emmersons and Honeychurches get to know each other better. Mr. Emmerson suggests that Lucy and George may be a good match for each other. The two potential lovebirds have a chance encounter that evening that makes George seem like a hero, however, Lucy has to let him down gently and tell him that she is not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him.
Lucy and Charlotte leave the guest house lodgings and continue on with their travels where Lucy encounters another man, Cecil Vyse, who proposes to her and Lucy accepts. Once Lucy and Charlotte finally return home to England, and George learns about these occurrences, he objects to the two getting married and confesses his true love for Lucy.
Lucy soon becomes entrapped in a love triangle with the two men, and she must figure out which path she wants to follow.