This is the first in a two-book saga that explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over four generations near the turn of the 20th century. Fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Marta's experiences convince her that only the strong survive -- and she determines to raise strong children. Marta's oldest daughter, Hildie, finds her calling as a nurse which gives her independence if not the respect of her mother. When Hildie starts a family of her own, she's determined that her daughter never doubt her love -- but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each mother is forced to confront her faulty, but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her place in the world.