Maggie McCauley is a typical American girl who grows up in the Midwest, healthy, confident, and assertive.
She foregoes college because of a disastrous high school romance, and goes to work at the local bank. In a few years, she hopes for a supervisory role, and private life is carefree and fun while she waits for her real prince to come. However, Maggie is derailed at the bank due to a merger and her lack of a college degree, so she consoles herself with a trip to Spain with her two best friends, Bobbi and Kim. Since her prince hasn't shown up yet, she has high hopes of meeting him there. Carlos is handsome, polite, and ardent, but he turns out to be a con man. By now, Maggie's self-esteem is in the dumper, but she is wide-awake and ready to face reality.
Fed up with the bank and knowing she needs a degree, Maggie gets a job at Basic Industries and forges ahead with evening classes. She meets two people at Basic who will prove tremendously helpful, Ed Willets who becomes her mentor and Lucy Woodring who proves to be a good friend and trusted advisor. Not a moment too soon because time passes swiftly on the hazardous career path. The years that follow are filled with hard work, learning the facts of corporate life, and solid achievements. Maggie enjoys almost every minute of it, and meets Jim Hodges, a young engineer at Basic, who soon becomes her good friend and lover.
However, battle lines are quickly drawn as Maggie's direct manager, Eileen Hister, recognizes Maggie's ability and ambition. Eileen is the “Queen Bee” at Basic and will resort to underhanded methods to prevent another woman from reaching her level. Some of Maggie's peers play rough too. After all, if they can make Maggie look bad, maybe they'll win by default.
Maggie stays in touch with her old friends, Bobbi and Kim, even though their lives are quite different now. These differences provide a useful perspective for Maggie, and she comes to realize that there's nothing wrong with following her own path, even if it does not include that traditional husband and family. The climax is her decision to fight for the position she's earned at Basic Industries and not to follow in her lover's wake. Maggie is successful, and the story ends with a new romance.
This report prepared by Mary Anne Broadhurst