In 1976 the tiny upstate New York town of Kaaterskill is bustling with summer people in dark coats, fedoras, and long modest dresses. Living side by side with Yankee year rounders, they are the disciples of Rav Elijah Kirshner. Elizabeth Shulman is a restless wife and mother of five daughters; her imagination transcends her cloistered community. Across the street Andras Melish is drawn to Kaaterskill by his adoring older sisters. Comforted, yet crippled by his sisters' love, he cannot overcome the ambivalence he feels toward his own children and his young wife. At the top of the hill, Rav Kirshner is nearing the end of his life. As he struggles to decide which of his sons should succeed him—the pious but stolid Isaiah or the brilliant but rebellious Jeremy—his followers wrestle with their future and their past. With this community, Allegra Goodman weaves magic.