Into Laurel Valley, Virginia, at the turn of the 20th century comes Martha Logantoo pretty and too young, according to the valley's oligarch, who does not want her there to teach in the town's one-room schoolhouse. Nelle Smeltzer is determined to send Martha away, but romance blossoms between Martha and Chris Avery, a major shareholder in the town bank. Martha soon discovers that the peaceful mountain valley she has chosen for her home is riddled with problems resulting from ignorance, greed, jealousy, and suicide. When Martha becomes pregnant by rapeChris' brother is suspected, wrongly, of being the rapistNelle has the excuse she needs to oust her. Chris begs Martha to marry him, but she refuses; and Chris leaves for Europe in despair. With her life in shambles, Martha turns to a friendly neighbor, who assures her that everything will be "just fine" when morning comes. But will it?