From the old South of New Orleans -- to the new South of Jackson, Texas, during and after the Civil War, in a first novel of understanding, marital conflict, emotional strain, of cross-sectioned frontier town growth, of political, economic and intellectual trends, which provides mature reading, well-paced historical fiction. There are three stories, paralleled, then interwoven. The McClouds and the Dancourts live through the siege of New Orleans and its capture, as Keith and Charles extricate all they can by running the blockade for the Confederates, while Therese and her family rejoice in the Union victory. The families -- after the war -- move to Texas and become leading citizens. Therese is unhappy in her marriage to the Sect merchant, Keith McCloud, and in her hopeless love for her in, Charles Dancourt, Keith partner; she tries to compensate in aing the devoti of a distant cousin, Jed, in her son's development, in the intellectual sti of a saloon-keeper. Then comes the collapse with railroad strikes and bank failures in '73, and Keith commits suicide rather than face the disgrace. Therese is free -- free of the place she hates, but knowing that Charles must stay, that Michel Dancourt and his wife will prosper, that her son will return.