The eviction of the crofters from their homes between 1792 and the 1850s was one of the cruellest episodes in Scotland's history. In this novel Iain Crichton Smith captures the impact of the Highland Clearances through the thoughts and memories of an old woman who has lived all her life within the narrow confines of her community.
Alone and bewildered by the demands of the factor, Mrs Scott approaches the minister for help, only to have her faith shattered by his hypocrisy. She finds comfort, however, from a surprising source: Donald Macleod, an imaginitive and self-educated man who has been ostracised by his neighbours, not least Mrs Scott, on account of his atheism. Through him and through the circumstances forced upon her, the old woman achieves new strength.