Annalise Rycroft has spent her whole life afraid she’ll be lost to obscurity. She wants nothing more than to be viewed as someone important.
Anna grew up traveling with her family on the Vaudeville circuit with dreams of becoming a shining star. She has talent. Unfortunately, as a young girl, she also has fears that she will have to overcome if she is going to be successful.
With a powerful voice able to mesmerize audiences, Anna is paralyzed by stage fright. But that’s not her only fear. Her deepest fear is that she’ll be lost to obscurity, becoming part of the “surplus population” spoken of by Ebenezer Scrooge in her favorite book A Christmas Carol. During the 1918 flu epidemic, Anna has a strange experience where characters from her favorite book unlock a hidden part of her past—a past that involves an absent father and missing younger brother. Dismissed as a fever dream, Anna pushes aside not only the dream but her fears as she pursues the stage.
Years pass, and eventually Anna finds the career success she desired. Yet even as an adult, she is driven by unfilled longings. She wants to marry her leading man Frederick Mansfield—only Frederick has fears and failings of his own. Leaving the drunk lush and philanderer behind, Anna pushes toward even greater stardom only to discover that the fever dream was based on reality, when her dad Charles surprises her with a visit. As she spends more time with her father, she learns she must choose between her fear of being seen as part of the “surplus population” or to courageously believe and act in a way that shows everyone has significance.