Overfishing and environmental concerns stemming from dangerous agricultural practices circle around the main character, Gail, who learns that her fertility is being hurt by the events that are out of her control. With dwindling fish counts, income and money are always an issue. She puts off having children for years much to the dismay of her husband, but is suddenly desperate for a child that she hopes will bring the family back together. Past romance is rekindled and becomes dangerous for her and the three brothers she is tied to, one of whom is her husband, "Sonny," the favored son who stayed in the dying fishing village instead of venturing off into the world to make his own name.
We learn what life was like on the farm for her as a child working the land, then being tied to the water when she married young into a generations-old fishing family. No matter how great a farmer she was as a teenager, or a fisherman as an adult, by the simple fact she's a woman puts her at a disadvantage. During her growth into full womanhood, she fights for equality and often loses simply because of what others perceive her to be capable of.
Her life is further complicated by her domineering father and father-in-law, with each man separately giving her pause for starting a family in the first place. At the same time, both men give her the need to nurture and possess her husband at the same time. Her desperate hope is that a child will shift her husband out from under the thumb of the "King" Kingsley, her husband's father and the person who runs not only the family and family business, but the small fishing village as well.
Through the use of agricultural and fishing terminology, the author does a great job of bringing the reader into the characters worlds, and bringing life to the fictitious Trappe Island set in modern Chesapeake Bay. This book has an interesting plot with nature and weather always in the background. And while environmental concerns are at the forefront, the author makes no judgements and offers no quick solutions for the characters, making them struggle to find the answers.