Fan is an adjunct professor, the daughter of a coal miner who attended college only to find herself teaching at a salary that’s brought her close to poverty-level again. When she and her husband move to Korea so he can investigate cloning using human cells, she finds herself having an affair, even as her husband gets caught trying to publish falsified research.
Filomena is a maid who begins to steal clothing from the rooms of wealthy guests, dressing up and haunting the hotel where she works. As she questions her own sexuality, she becomes obsessed with televangelists. Filomena begins communicating anonymously with hotel guests through text messages, delivering reassurances and warnings.
Finally, there is Cate, a reality star who manages her own reality television career and that of her family. She orchestrates the alcoholic binges of her rock-star husband, edits the family’s daily footage, arranges re-shoots, and crafts her world as well as that of her mother and sisters.
All three characters confront the question: when are we most ourselves—when we realize the selves we aspire to, or when we are unadorned? The characters converge on the same place: Filomena’s hotel, where Cate comes to stay before a public appearance. The three point-of-view characters come together, after which each will come away changed.