During the dreary month of March in Copenhagen in the early 1970s, a 25 year old American woman travels on a solitary quest to become, in her mind, a "woman of the world." In fact, she is lost, adrift, dislocated, not only from familiar surroundings but from her innermost being: "It was the era of rising feminist consciousness, but my mind had not yet caught up to my age and my consciousness was not the part of me that was rising up that winter." The memoir-like narrative of The Metal Girl is told by the mature woman who looks back on her younger, more naive self. Describing a timeless and highly personal milieu, she tells her story with intimate candor as it unfolds in a lyrical, ironic and insightful voice.
She takes a room in a cheap pension, which, unbeknownst to her, is located on the edge of the city's red light district. The hotel is run by the enigmatic Elke, a quintessential blond, Scandinavian beauty, and Manfred, a German man of beefy proportions and portentous looks. Venturing out one evening to a jazz club, she meets Olaf, who attracts her with his handsome face, kindness and charm, and his friend Elizabeth, whom she finds the most alluring of all beautiful, poetic, intelligent, mysterious, wise and tragic.
Her journey through these relationships climaxes late one night when she discovers the raison d'tre of everyone else and, even more surprising, the disillusioning truth about herself.