Sethe is a woman of elemental grace and unspoken mystery. A figure of fierce determination, Sethe is a runaway slave struggling to carve out her own simple existence with her children in rural Ohio, 1873. Preventing her from achieving that, however, is the painful legacy of her former life, and the desperate measures to which she is driven to keep herself and her family from returning to it. Paul D is an old friend who comes to visit Sethe and whose understanding is tested by her household's shattering secrets. Denver is Sethe's daughter, an embattled young woman who must free herself from the crippling grasp that her mother's choices have on her. And the mysterious young woman who calls herslf Beloved, grows to become part of Sethe's family--her devastating presence threatens to destroy the delicate balance of Sethe and Denver's existence.