Grissom's book takes place on a Southern plantation in the late 1790s into the early 1800s. The story is told by two women: Lavinia, a poor 7-year-old Irish girl whose parents die in the passage over, and Belle, a slave and cook in the kitchen house, on the plantation to which Lavinia is brought as an indentured servant. This book isn't great literature, but it's a great read. The characters, both masters and slaves, are all compelling, and their stories are intertwined both by birth and by the plantation they all call home. There are parts that read almost like a thriller, while others are as slow-moving as southern air in summer. But there was never a time that the book bored me or that I didn't care what happened to all the characters. And the overriding message was of family, the ones we are born to and the ones we choose. In this case, the families of choice are the more powerful and the more lasting.