Results of the National Book Award in the year 1981.
In the picturesque Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, Marit Deym lives alone on a thousand-acre inheritance from her aristocratic Hungarian parents. Though bright and attractive, she is a stranger to the complexities of human relationships. She keeps to herself, venturing out only to defend her one passion: the care of her wild animals—the lynx, bears, fox, and family of wolves for whom she has established a sanctuary on her land.
Then the wolves bring to her door Gabriel Frankman—a thoughtful young teacher at the nearby school for the blind, lost hiking in the woods. Despite his fear of the wild creatures, Gabriel seems oddly calm in their presence. For Marit, too, there is an immediate, consuming connection to the stranger—the first of her life. But it is a dangerous one. Soon her love of Gabriel will bring forth an unspeakable tragedy: to an innocent life, herself, and her precious animals.