The hard, exacting life of a mountain farming community in the Midwest, where Finns have determinedly set about making themselves an existence and turn to their saunas and shivarees for some sweetness, sets the tone for this naturalistic novel. When Ava Knuutinen loses her parents, she decides to keep the farm going with the help of her grandmother Mummu. She is still very young, with that decisive act of love already behind her at fourteen; and there are more men to come: two successive boarders, with the forestry fire-fighting patrol. The first, Mel, robs her not only of her timber but of her peace, for he turns to ugly, haunting practices in bed. The second, a good man, Paul, is himself scarred by failure in marriage, but he comes up to scratch with the neighbors and relatives after a trial in blood. And when fire destroys the farm and Mummu is gone, he is ready to love Ava, she him. Painted in nature's colors, this has a certain primary strength, a basic honesty at some remove from much woman's fiction...and a genuine heroine.