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When young Mattie Mills comes to Jexville, Mississippi, as the mail-order bride of the local barber, she finds a quiet, deeply religious community so cautious that even dancing is frowned upon. The only vitality comes from the McVay family, with whom Mattie quickly strikes up a strong friendship. As Mattie plunges over her head in the swirling currents of other people's lives, her own floodtide of discontent rises. She discovers the disappointments of her marriage and finds herself falling for another man.

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