Betsy Randall and her family set out from England in 1713, bound for her late brother's plantation in Colonial Virginia, but she alone survives the voyage to disembark in a port where Africans are abused and sold into slavery. Accustomed to a life ruled by men, she must forge her way alone in a land where Europeans, Africans, and Indians are becoming a nation. She encounters the kindness and treachery of colonials; the bravery and violence of frontiersmen, soldiers, bandits and Indians; the beauty and danger of the untamed wilderness; the cruelty of slavery, and the sometimes strange intimacy between slave and master. Having finally arrived at Good Hope, her late brother's plantation, she must come to terms with being the owner of men and women, and with family she had not imagined existed. But most of all she must come to terms with her own self-realization and quest for independence.