This treasure of a novel is set on the island of Nantucket just before the War of 1812. Much more than a tale of whaling ships and gentle Quaker eccentricities, it is a tale of friendship-the kind most truly espoused by these 'plain' folk, with all the struggle and complexity one should expect. Dionis (Dencey) Coffyn is a mystery to her mother, Lydia, whose stern exterior hides a heart that breaks every time her husband Captain Tom goes to sea. Within a context of outward simplicity of living and inward intricacy of relationship, Dencey matures from the little girl who, in unquakerly violence of temper, throws a rock that wounds the town outcast. She becomes a young woman ready to bear her part in life with grace and courage. A probing portrayal of the power of love to overcome social barriers and religious strictures.