For Maya, a young widow trying to escape her complicated past, teaching school in a secluded mountain village offers a promise of peace. Here she feels close to the calm heart of the land, where lush foothills meet clear skies. In the evenings she teaches a peasant girl, Charu, to write so she can correspond with her lover in secret. As Maya finds out, however, no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world, or her own past. The community she has grown to love comes under attack when powerful outsiders hijack the local elections, dividing the villagers and threatening Charu's family. And when Maya's landlord's charming nephew sets up shop nearby, Maya is drawn to him despite her better instincts-and soon finds herself questioning everything she has ever known.