In upstate New York in the 1850s, Abigail begins a new year on the rural farm where she lives with her husband Dyer. As Abigail considers the year to come through her journal entries, we experience the marked contrast between her deliberate, stoic manner and her unravelling complex emotions. Spring arrives and Abigail meets Tallie, an emotionally frank and arrestingly beautiful newcomer renting a neighbouring farm with her husband, Finney. The two strike up a tentative relationship, filling a void in their lives which neither knew existed.
We follow the progress of the two women’s increased intimacy and passionate devotion to one another, even as they begin to register that they have no model for this new state in which they find themselves. As both husbands come to terms with the intensity of their wives’ connection—Dyer’s wounded feelings and Finney’s jealous vindictiveness—events climax with Finney’s decision to move Tallie away, and Abigail’s determination to pursue her lost kindred spirit.