Synopsis

Adalbert and Olive Hardwell, born to wealthy Boston families, marry in 1899, and disobeying his powerful father’s wishes, decide to forego their lives of wealth and privilege to become vagabonds so Del can be an inventor. They joyfully agree to live without possessions, a home, children, and their families, unencumbered with the limitations and expectations that come with immense wealth, and fueled with a determination to keep money at a distance so it will never taint them the way they had seen it affect others. For fifty years, they travel up and down the eastern seaboard. Del, a brilliant, stubborn and eccentric man who graduated from Harvard, happily fashions metal parts for mills and factories. Olive, a smart, quiet girl who met Del while earning her BA at Radcliffe, is an avid reader, and contentedly passes her days reading or cooking at the boarding houses where they stay. In 1949, after receiving a small inheritance at age 70, Del decides to use it to buy his wife a home in a spot he loves along the Delaware River near Milford, Pennsylvania. Thrilled at this rare taste of permanence, they stop traveling and settle into their one room hot- dog shack with no indoor plumbing. A few months later, Del, who’s never been ill, catches cold on Tuesday and is dead from a hemorrhage on Wednesday. Olive is left with one dollar in her purse. The owner of a nearby gas station that befriended the couple suggests she go see Steve Kramer, a young, brilliant attorney, in Milford who has a reputation for being a “soft touch” and try to borrow $25 to drive Del’s ashes to Boston for burial. Olive finds the courage to visit Steve and he lends her the money. Out of concern for her lack of funds and her state of grief, he offers to help her when she returns. After a stubborn bout of reluctance, she accepts the offer. When he learns from Olive that the couple had $600 in a NY bank and intuits from her eccentric appearance that doesn’t match her elegant boarding-school speech that something isn’t adding up, Steve shrewdly decides to write letters to banks from Jacksonville to Boston and asks for a current status of Mr. Hardwell’s accounts. His hope is to find something – anything – to keep Olive safe. What Steve doesn’t anticipate is the deluge of responses indicating monies in multiple locations. Eventually, he finds millions in Boston. The shock of Del’s exclusion and lies after living a life in which she thought Del and she shared everything, even though they had nothing, proves too much for Olive. Her reaction and ultimate decline forces Steve to deal with life when it doesn’t turn out the way he’s planned and makes them both redefine love, trust, betrayal, family, and money.

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