Harriet Johnson, recovering from an illness, is prescribed skating lessons to strengthen her legs. At the rink, she meets Lalla Moore, who is being brought up as a future skating champion. The girls become friends, and end up sharing not only skating lessons, but ballet, fencing and school lessons as well. It’s assumed that Harriet will inspire Lalla to work harder. Lalla is being pushed by her Aunt Claudia, who wants Lalla to honour her late skating champion father. Claudia also wants to share in the glory and riches to come.
Problems arise when Lalla has trouble with her figures and her skating teacher takes an interest in Harriet, whom he thinks is more promising. This conflict takes quite a while to get started since Harriet is more of an avid admirer of Lalla rather than an active participant.
The story is really about the extreme pressure that is put on Lalla by the adults around her. They expect her to be a champion without ever asking if she really wants it.
Streatfeild skillfully weaves together a story of a loving family (Harriet’s) and character anxiety (both girls) to create a cohesive, absorbing story that turns out all right in the end.