The priceless ruby necklace secretly given to fifteen-year-old Ophelia Oatman by her dying mother isn’t easily given awaynor is her virginity. But Ophelia must choose between them. The necklace becomes both Ophelia’s ticket to freedom and shackles of shame. Fate, family legacy, hair color, the shape of her skull, sex, survival, the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and the tension between Mormons and Gentiles in the Utah Territory converge to shape her destiny.
Ophelia’s War chronicles the battles for love and survival fought by a young frontier girl in the nineteenth century: her limited choices between polygamy and prostitution, the high cost of keeping her jewels, and the impossibility of protecting them. In an era when many women committed suicide so they wouldn’t be shunned and face the shame of being damaged goods, the rebellious and resilient Ophelia uses disgrace and the rubies of her ruin to reinvent herself and win financial freedom. Yet what is the ultimate cost? Can love and reconciliation triumph over her loss and shame?