Three women from different eras are linked by their common yearnings and fears. Virginia Woolf, in a suburb of London in the 1920s is battling insanity as she struggles to begin writing her first great novel, Mrs Dalloway. Laura Brown, a young wife and mother in post-World War II Los Angeles, is reading Mrs Dalloway, and is so deeply affected by it that she begins to question the life she has chosen for herself. Finally, Clarissa Vaughan is a modern-day Mrs Dalloway in contemporary New York, planning a party for her friend and former lover who is slowly losing his fight with AIDS. Three women, separated by a span of nearly 80 years, find themselves weathering similar crises, all linked by a single work of literature.