Judith Early was a privileged only child of an affluent family. She expected this life of comfort to continue when she became engaged to Dr. Jim Bradley, who was completing his surgical residency in Boston. That dream was shattered when he shared plans to practice in an isolated community of the Blue Ridge, a mountainous area in the southern Appalachians.
Disappointed, Judith questions why Jim would pass up a promising partnership to squander his skills in a backwoods, impoverished community. Deeply hurt, she breaks the engagement, forcing Jim to leave without her in answer to God’s call. Trusting in her power of persuasion, Judith travels to Balsam Ridge to seek Jim, regain his love, and convince him to return to Boston. From the moment she disembarks the locomotive, challenges threaten her resolve. Balsam Ridge is a place where faith and superstition often go hand in hand, where sadness and joy are birthed in equal portion, and the call of an owl portends calamity.
Jim’s desire to bring recent advances in medicine to the mountain people is often impeded by their staunch reliance on home remedies and their view of tragedy as God’s will. However, his greatest threat to success comes through a wealthy, ruthless timberman, who cheats the local people and ravages the beautiful mountains by stripping them of their virgin timber.
Judith’s ultimate challenge comes in the form of a great personal loss; a loss so painful that she questions the love of both God and her husband.