Floundering a bit after the death of his aged (and domineering) mother, Manley Carstairs, a self-styled literary artist, engages a housekeeper, Annie Dankworth, to look after his large Victorian house (and him). When Annie first arrives, wearing sneakers and carrying her belongings in a grocery cart, Manley is taken aback, but she seems so eager to please that he relents — after which point their relationship progresses rapidly from restraint to hatred. Annie is one of the world's great oddballs. She insults her employer, denigrates his writing, admits she forged her references, accuses Manley of lusting after her, and makes his life hell in general. Eventually Manley can take no more, but when he advances on Annie with strangulation in mind, he trips, falls into her arms, they embrace, and the rest is history.