A long, thin, labored feminist soap opera stretching from 1900 to 1918 and carrying beautiful, bookish, determined Minnesota farm-girl Ellen Archer to a suffragist-martyr's death in the arms of her long-exiled (his-and-hers careers) husband, foreign correspondent Philip Wrenn whose assignments bring us news of the world's other misused people. Also featured are: Ellen's gentle doctor-to-be brother Alex, who helps her escape from their brutish father and malicious stepmother and then dies treating typhoid victims; their well-to-do, proudly unmarried ""foster mother"" Emelia, who has a will-they-or-won't-they relationship with stripling Alex and succumbs to a heart attack after his death; Philip's Chicago-tycoon father, who softens toward tub-thumping Ellen following the birth of his grandchild, Trish; Philip's independent-minded sister Robby, who works and lives at Hull House, pairs up with Ellen, and helps her raise Trish; Robby's orphaned, musical-genius ward Anthony, destined to be Trish's soul-mate and intended; and Trish, shadowy here until, in her early teens, she goes abroad for her first meeting with Philip--who has meanwhile been down-and-out with South African prostitute Marnie. And it's Trish's vision of herself, Ellen, and Philip as a family back in good old Curved River, Minn., where Emelia's house still stands as a beacon, that brings adoring, admiring Philip back after 20 years--to find Ellen, jailed and horribly misused after a Washington demonstration, about to die. . . having, in her brave suffering, turned the tide for the woman's-suffrage cause. The plot thickens and the characters pontificate.