There's gentle charm and wholesomeness and evidence of meticulous documentation in the atmosphere and period detail of this quiet love story of the years following the Civil War. Belle Barnhart, daughter of a Pennsylvania farmer, takes the position of a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Davenport, Iowa. At first she lives with relatives, later with friends, and soon attracts the attention of two youths, Will Munson, handsome and irresponsible, and Sam Orris, gauche but pure sterling underneath. The plot turns and twists with Belle's vacillations, until she finally settles for the ugly duckling. Her life is filled with homemaking, teaching, acquiring new points of view through meeting new people, in new surroundings. There's an Emerson lecture- a ride in the Iron Horse, theatres, parties, county fairs, and reflection of the political and social changes of the period. Pleasant reading in the even pace of a family novel, but one could wish that Belle herself could have been a bit more complicated. Not as moving a story as the author's Bittersweet.