Laurel's marriage has failed, although she's loathe to admit it until she runs into the new wife at the grocery store -- and she's obviously pregnant. Upset and confused, Laurel makes the journey home to the small North Carolina textile mill town where she grew up.
Life isn't much better there. Laurel's parents are going through changes of their own thanks to the march of time. Her mother's friends, who are also her co-workers at the mill, have their own life crises. Laurel goes to work at the mill and is placed in charge of working on a history for the anniversary of the mill's opening. As she talks to the women and sorts through the documents (and as she finds some other memorabilia at her parents' house), she begins to piece together a picture of some very strong women.
The story is told in shifting viewpoints. There are quite a number of characters for the reader to keep track of although Laurel and her family serve as the focal point for the narrative action.
This report prepared by ldpaulson