A hearty family story set in Oklahoma, 1907-63, and featuring the hard-working, sacrificial, family-centered life of Katherine Dexter--a woman of forthright opinions, loves, and humane sentiments. It was Cora, Kate's mother, who saved the family from ruin by running a boarding-house in Oklahoma Territory when father Guerney Harvey, afloat on dreams of impractical money-draining projects, never seemed to take hold. The Harvey daughters--Kate, gently dim Nona, and pretty Essie--will regard the boarding-house as a symbol of their family's survival and a monument to tough, feisty Cora. But young Kate will also have visions of an open-ended future, a vista shared with pianist Nate Duellen, with whom Essie will elope. And, after a trial-by-fire as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse (some heartbreaking racial prejudice mars her achievement), Kate marries nice Will Dexter, a lawyer--and they'll become the parents of Blaine and lovely, retarded Katie. Kate's insistence on Katie remaining at home cools the marriage, but then little Katie's tantrum-shooting of ranch-hand Billy Hedges leads to her accidental death; and Kate's grieving causes a long estrangement from Will. Meanwhile, Essie and Nate, Depression victims, return to the boarding-house--and Kate and Nate, both unhappy in their marriages, have a clandestine affair, though plans to run away together are foiled when Essie becomes pregnant. Will, likewise, takes comfort in the arms of Indian heiress Wynona Goss, once the lover of Billy Hedges. Eventually, then, most everyone withers away, the boarding-house is torn down, and at the last Katherine is in a dreadful nursing home (but she'll be rescued by--surprise--Wynona). Much pleasurable sunny and scenic matter--the whoop-it-up Statehood celebration, front-yard feasts, a gritty feel of time and place--and though there's little subtle character-shading under this Oklahoma sun, this is a likable, homey, bread-dough-and-apron first novel.