The novel encompasses the breadth of the 20th century as it follows the life of Latha Bourne, a resident of Stay More, a small fictional hamlet in the Arkansas Ozarks. Essentially, the narrative is the 106-year-old Latha’s life story. She grew up in poverty and was a vibrant and curious child who always asked questions. As she matures into adolescence, she attends the local school and begins to explore her awaking sexuality. At one point, she becomes pregnant and goes to stay with her sister in Little Rock. After the baby is born, her sister has Latha declared incompetent as a mother and has her committed to a psychiatric hospital, where she remains for several years. Finally she escapes and wanders the roads until she meets a wealthy woman, Mildred Cardwell, who gives her a job as a servant. She stays for seven years and reads voraciously from Mrs. Cardwell’s extensive library. Finally, she returns home and settles down. Eventually she is reunited with her daughter and, over time, becomes the respected sage of Stay More. When the novel ends, she has withdrawn from the mere ghost of a town to become a hermit.
Harington has written another exceptional work about the mythical town of Stay More in which the protagonist of this novel is a central figure. He brings to life the numerous characters that inhabit Latha’s world. He portrays Stay More as a poor but vibrant community where the simple life is really not simple or easy; it is place where someone can find contentment, happiness, and experience a full and interesting life. This is an outstanding work of American fiction not to be missed.