The narrator, often identified as Jane, and her husband John are renting a beautiful, secluded estate for the summer. The narrator suffers from what her husband believes is a "temporary nervous depression." He orders her to rest as much as possible, and picks a room in the house for the two of them.
The narrator feels vaguely uncomfortable with the estate, but obeys her husband’s decision for the two of them to stay there. She also obeys him when he chooses a large, airy room on the top floor instead of the smaller, prettier room on the ground floor that she prefers.
Since her husband is a doctor, he wins all their arguments. The narrator would like to spend her time writing, but her husband, brother, and assorted other family members think this is a terrible idea.