From the North Carolina hills comes the story of Lydia Moore who married Mark McQueen, and whose life, from 1846 to 1896, encompassed the privations of the Civil War, the hardships of the reconstruction period, and the view of a future that was possible for her children. Lydia, of independent ways, knows that Mark will never conform, accepts his decision to fight for the Union while her father and brother join the South; she learns her strength when the outliers ravage her family's place and bears a son who, retarded by lack of professional help at birth, shadows all contentment. Mark's scars from Andersonville suppurate when he returns, and his retirement to a mountainside farm does not meet his desire for isolation, for Lydia gives generously of herself and her abilities, and their children, her brothers and sisters, and all the friends along Thickety Creek -- and their unknown enemies -- contribute to the growth of a woman who casts a long shadow, who works for education, for a way of life she has never known, and for the strength of a marriage. Plainspoken as its subject this is a record without artifice that is, however, artful in its simplicity. That market, tired of the overindulgence of flesh, of sex and of extra explicitness, will be relaxed and refreshed with this.