Set in the decades preceding the Civil War, this third volume of The Beulah Quintet - Mary Lee Settle's unforgettable generational saga about the roots of American culture, class, and identity and the meaning of freedom - tells the tragic tale of Peregrine Catlett and his second son, Johnny. The year 1837 brings a host of perils to the verdant Virginia valley where Peregrine, a third-generation American, is the owner of Beulah. Amid financial panic, debate over the abolition of slavery, and mounting tension between North and South, Peregrine considers freeing his slaves but believes that, with his children scattered, his only hope of retaining his livelihood rests on the use of slave labor. Tied to the land by a special bond, Johnny returns to his father's farm but stays only until the outbreak of hostilities. As a Confederate soldier, Johnny is aware of the tragedy to come. But family ties outweigh convictions, and he ends up fighting in the war with disastrous results.
Mary Lee Settle was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and has lived in England, Turkey, and New York. Her novel Blood Tie won the National Book Award and her novel Choices received the Lillian Smith Award for fiction. Settle's other works include the novels Charley Bland, Celebration, The Clam Shell, The Love Eaters, The Kiss of Kin and a memoir, All the Brave Promises. Settle now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.