Gillion is from the American South, but she is definitely not a Southern belle. An art historian by trade, she takes a job in London to escape from the demands of her wealthy, conventional, socially superior family in Charleston, South Carolina. Once in London she meets Tilly, a features editor, and her long-term boyfriend and wildlife photographer Henry, who is finding it hard to commit. Before long, Gillion inadvertently offers Henry an escape: the chance to travel to South Carolina and photograph its wildlife. Upon arriving, Henry is wholly seduced by the charms of Charleston, by Gillon's family, and by the old patrician way of life which presents itself. Neither Gillion nor Henry bargains on what they find there, nor the effect his departure will have on Tilly and the world he left behind.