Julie Harmon is a most unusual woman. She works hard as a man they say, so hard that at times she's not sure she can stop. Her neighbors in Gap Creek depend on her. People are weak, and someone has to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. Just a teenager when her little brother dies in her arms, she marries Hank and moves down into the valley. There Julie and Hank discover that the modern world is complex, grinding ever on without pause or concern for their hard work. To survive, they must find out whether love can keep madness at bay.