In Minnesota in 1911, Nilda Carlson is torn between society life in the city of Blackduck and spending time with her family back home on the farm. Her employer, Mrs. Schoenleber, gives her more and more responsibility and experience, including recommending new opportunities for her philanthropy. Still new to America herself, Nilda focuses on the area's immigrant community, but she'll have to fight to get her ideas accepted by the locals and donors alike.
In the meantime, one of her greatest joys is her weekly piano lesson with the handsome schoolteacher, Fritz. But just as Nilda is beginning to realize she has feelings for him, a stylish, affluent young woman moves to Blackduck and monopolizes Fritz's attention. With her humble background, how can Nilda hope to compete with such a sophisticated beauty?