Vashti, a sexually repressed 60-year-old female poet finally finds the courage to divorce a man she married as a teenager, a man jealous of her looks, of the very equipment that makes her so appealing and this freedom allows 66-year-old poet Thomas Higginson to act upon the fantasy he's had for thirty years of loving Vashti, actually holding her, making love to her, a fantasy he acts out by visiting a store of Vashti, his fantasy come to life, and of course, entering that store is really a sexual act, for he's entering Vashti, even if just in his head that somehow Vashti seems to control for she has awareness of all of these Dream Baby Tienda events.
Novel begins with Vashti revealing her past to her friend Thomas Robert Higginson who continues to enjoy his fantasy at the Dream Baby Tienda; he's been interested in Vashti and loving her in his dreams, in his fantasies for 25 years. Every aisle has forms of Vashti on the shelf. He feels a little guilty because he's married, but Vashti is thoroughly irresistible to him. He tries not to give in to his fantasy's demands, but he fails, realizing the attraction he feels is much too powerful to deny.
He invites Vashti to be in a movie, and he wants to begin making love to her right then, but he doesn't, as both of them are married, but he wants to anyway; he finds Vashti to be the most beautiful woman in the world. He comes to the university where she teaches, and Vashti is in the audience, and Vashti loves how Thomas Higginson performs, but Vashti is married to a non-poet spouse, because beautiful Vashti was raped and became pregnant from that when she was fifteen. Then Vashti meets the man she marries three weeks after the abortion... He is not sensitive to what has happened to her; she is 16 when they meet, Wesley is 23, not a good match at all. Thomas is a much better man for Vashti; he always knew this, but takes a little longer for Thomas to charm Vashti twenty-five years later when his weight gain worries him that he will not be attractive to his fantasy woman.
During the twenty-five years since they meet in person for Thomas's movie, Vashti marries an infertile man, and almost doesn't get to have a child of her own. Vashti's spouse cannot accept his infertility, and refuses to accept a sperm donor, but Vashti insists on having a child.
And ultimately this child more like Vashti than anyone else in the world causes the dissolution of a marriage that never should have happened, but Vashti's mother was only too glad to get Vashti married off, and since Wesley was interested, Vashti's mother agrees to the teenage Vashti marrying a man much too old for her. Now that Vashti is free, and Thomas Higginson's wife has died, Thomas and Vashti become friends on Facebook, and as soon as Vashti changes her relationship status, he contacts Vashti, as he has during those years since the filming of his movie in 1988, as friends not as lovers.. Once Vashti finally divorces in 2013, this sexually repressed woman tries online dating and is extremely disappointed, so when Thomas contacts her to begin dating, Vashti is occupied with a man from an online service, and Thomas has to wait a little longer. But Vashti soon realizes what Thomas wants, and Vashti is fascinated, although this man has gained a lot of weight, at least thirty pounds. But after 25 years, this man and woman meet, and Thomas is delighted, but Vashti fears that she cannot compete with the fantasy version of herself, and they agree to meet in Chicago, once Thomas is convinced that she will become not involved with the man from online dating, and when they meet, there's instant attraction, and Thomas makes good on everything he has promised Vashti. Vashti has the best intimacy, best kisses, best sex of her life.