Elinor Bratton, pregnant and cast aside by her lover, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she barely knows. Adam MacPhail, an iron worker hoping to become an iron master agrees to the match as a means of realizing his dream. Ellie's father orchestrates the union not as Ellie would have it, but as he sees fit. So begins a marriage in a time when women had no rights. Ellie, exiled to the wilderness of western Pennsylvania with a man she wouldn't have considered three months before, declares her intention to make Adam's life miserable. Adam, unschooled in dealing with women, focuses on turning a down-and-out iron furnace into a profitable producer. Through the early 19th century, the couple struggle to establish a life, disentangle an ill-conceived marriage, and make a success of a derelict furnace. First in the Juniata Iron Trilogy, The Furnace chronicles Ellie and Adam's efforts to find a balance and build an enterprise worthy of Juniata Iron, the finest in the world.