Fatigued by the horrors of the Civil War, deserter W.P. Inman foots the arduous terrain of North Carolina toward home and the salve of his love, Ada Monroe, herself transformed by his absence. Once a Southern lady of privilege, Ada adapts to years of profound deprivation thanks to a resourceful new friend, Ruby. Inman’s odyssey home is plagued by not only the Home Guard’s marshals, but a more gruesome possibility: has the war’s violence withered his human capacity to love? And further, what truly makes a man a human?