At the beginning of the 20th Century there is a most unusual woman living in Gap Creek, isolated in the Appalachian high country. Julie Harmon works hard, ‘hard as a man’, they say, so hard that at times she’s not sure she can stop. People depend on her. They need her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak and there is much to do. She is just a teenager when her brother dies in her arms. The same year that she marries Hank and moves down into the valley. In the first year of their marriage, Julie and Hank discover that the modern world is more complex than even they could imagine, and to survive they must find out whether love can keep chaos and madness at bay.