Reminiscent of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, this novel of love, betrayal, and tragedy unfolds on a New England farm in the hot, dry summer and golden autumn of 1957. Despite his failing health, Hedley Vaughn struggles daily with the land, keeping his hard-scrabble farm alive and preserving old traditions. His young wife Janet struggles alongside him. Yearning for a child but unable to bear one, she consoles herself with the Catholic faith. Trying to become part of this family is Bobby Dearborn, a young orphan and distant relative of Hedley's who is just coming of age. When Hedley hires drifter and ex-Marine Lucien Quirk for the summer, he inadvertently sets in motion a series of passionate events in which Bobby is both witness and actor.