In the textile-manufacturing region of New Hampshire in 1929, newlyweds Honora and Sexton Beecher wrestle with all the wonders and challenges that young couples have always faced. They've just purchased a house near the ocean that needs a lot of work, but the couple is dedicated to making it a home. When the economy fails and a single unscrupulous act perpetrated by Sexton is revealed, more than love will be required to keep the marriage from collapsing under the weight of this betrayal. Sexton -- formerly a traveling salesman -- is forced to take a job at the local mill alongside other men, women, and children whose very survival is being threatened by the harsh burden of their daily toil. Repeated pay cuts and inhumane conditions propel the workers closer to a potentially violent clash with management and union breakers. Alliances are formed, honor is challenged, and character flaws become fatal as the tinderbox explodes, leaving old bonds broken and new ones bolstered.
Momentum builds steadily in this beautifully developed story, unfettered by needless machinations. Shreve deftly weaves the lives of a diverse collection of characters into a tapestry that is rich with the complete range of human emotion and lush with tactile nuance. (Ann Kashickey)