Ellie Dunklee lost her mother when she was five, and hasn't seen her estranged grandmother since the funeral. Now the grandmother, Aurelia, dies, and Ellie is surprised to learn that she has inherited her home and most of her possessions, including a host of family diaries which Aurelia, in her will, requests that Ellie read. All that Aurelia leaves to her surviving child, Ellie's Uncle Lyman, is an empty chest. Conflicted and confused by the bequest, Ellie discovers that she loves her property, beautiful Hart Farm in rural Vermont, and the connection to her mother's past. But as she reads the diaries, Ellie uncovers a long history of child and spousal abuse that accounts for Aurelia's odd behavior. As she struggles with the knowledge, Ellie remembers her mother's words: "We forgive people for our own sake."
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