Nathaniel's life weaves through the destinies of four women: Elizabeth, Katerina, Lucinda, and Esther. His decision sets the women's lives on a path of fire, one that twists and turns and taints them. But is Nathaniel alone to blame? Elizabeth grows up with a mother who does not speak while Katerina must face the reality of her mother's mental illness. Lucinda is forced to cope with abandonment, and Esther struggles with delusions that leave her isolated from the world. All four women dance with their own strengths and weaknesses in turn of the nineteenth century Harrisville, a dusty midwestern town.