An attractive and enigmatic stranger - Charlie Beale, a loner, recently home from the war in Europe - wanders into the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of only a few hundred people nestled in the Valley of Virginia. He brings with him two suitcases: one contains all his worldly possessions, including a set of butcher's knives; the other is full of money. Charlie quickly finds a job at the local butcher shop and through his work there meets all the townspeople, most notably Sam Haislett, the five-year-old son of the shop's owner; and Sylvan Glass, the beautiful, eccentric teenage bride of the town's richest man. What no one anticipates is how the interaction of these three people will alter the town forever, and how the passion that flares between Charlie and Sylvan will mark young Sam for life.
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