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Living with her poet father in the small hotel he runs almost as a hobby in the French Riviera, 14-year-old Penelope enjoys an upbringing both loving and laid-back, mingling easily with eccentric guests who dote on her. She is not proud of herself or her environment, wishing that she were just ordinary-- like the Bradleys, the wholesome middle-class family of jocks staying in the villa next door. When the Bradleys first invite Penelope over to share in their activities, she is overjoyed. But it soon becomes clear that the parents are condescending, unimaginative, and narrow-minded, and are raising their childen to be likewise. One evening, with her father away, a crisis befalling one of the guests demands all of Penelope's maturity and poise. Will the Bradleys help or let her down?