It's 1948 on a tobacco farm in southern Virginia and a poor farm girl hopes to break away from an abusive father by finding a suitor to rescue her. But for Cora Slaughter, a slight deformity forces her to live in the shadow of her sister Sibby, who basks in the attention of all the local boys. Tormented by the thought that she will grow up to be a spinster, and teased by her schoolmates, Cora takes refuge in the books that her teacher lends her. But life takes a dramatic turn when Cora meets a dark, handsome stranger who comes to town looking for work. What she doesn't realize is that the life she is escaping is ideal compared to the hell she is about to enter.