Laurel McKelva Hand leaves her job as a textile designer in Chicago, to go back home to the South when her father calls because he's sick. This book opens with Judge McKelva seeing a doctor with both his daughter and his second wife Fay (Laura's stepmother) because he's having trouble with his vision. When the doctor recommends that he has an operation to fix his retina, Laura and the Judge decide that this is best, over Fay's objections. The operation is a success, but the Judge has to spend weeks in bed with his eyes covered. Unable to move, he begins to lose heart as Fay, who's a grasping woman who thinks always of herself, torments him, and by the end of part I, he's died. Part II then revolves around Laurel and Fay's trip back home with his body to the small town where the family lives. As the town gathers to mourn the Judge, Fay's family (whom she's denied) turns up.
This report prepared by Ann Gaines