At the age of four, Bernadette Araud is left an orphan when her mother is killed in a train wreck in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bernadette is reared by a local family, the Camerons, until a chance meeting leads her mother’s family to her. The Ridgeleys are a well-to-do New Orleans family who are eager to have Bernadette with them. After Bernadette leaves her mountain home, the Camerons are so bereft that they decide to return to Scotland. There their son, Alan, completes his education. Alan then returns to the United States and attempts to woo Bernadette. Going against our current stereotypes, the Camerons are Catholics, and Bernadette’s attachment to her Catholic faith figures in the choices that she makes. A dangerous forest fire pushes the novel to a dramatic conclusion.
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