Returning to the now ramshackle country house where he had spent his boyhood summers, Jonathan Edwards VII, a direct descendant of the famous eighteenth-century Calvinist preacher, wants to learn why his late father willed the place to the aging caretaker, Cliff, who now lives on there with his assumed daughter, a half-Indian girl named Zabrina. Sensing unanswered questions in the relationship between Cliff, who had served several generations of his family, and his father, Jonathan seeks answers, only to be met with antagonism and the threat of violence. But as he probes deeper he also confronts the disturbing truth of his forebears' often destructive singlemindedness—from those who ravaged souls in order to save them, to those who despoiled the land in search of wealth and power. In the end Jonathan and Zabrina (who may, in truth, be his half-sister) symbolically burn the Edwards family album, thereby exorcising the ghosts of the past and, at last, freeing themselves to deal with the present—and the future—as individuals in control of their own destinies.
An engrossing, skillfully drawn re-evaluation of our country's ambiguous Puritan heritage, in which a young man, the seventh-generation descendant of a distinguished American family, returns to his ancestral summer home determined to confront—and fathom—his past and the unsettling legacy of his forefathers.