A moving look at how lives are shaped by circumstance. Set in Alabama between and following the two world wars, A Circle of Earth tells the story of two characters' attempts to find happiness in a world where both lives and marriages are defined not by choice but by circumstance. At age seventeen Emma walks blindly into a marriage that is not a love match. Her plight becomes the attempt to exist within the confines of this relationship. The limitations of Henry's world are uniquely cruel, as he has a searching and eager mind. The effects of the Great Depression worsen his situation, resulting in his placement in the state mental hospital, where he forms an unlikely bond with a young psychiatrist-a Northerner of whom he asks "if Levy had ever loved a woman. Loved her so that the lobe of an ear or the shape of her mouth were little sights to almost hurt a man's heart."