This is one of Willa Cather's last book and you will not regret reading it. Once you start reading it as usual you are caught up with the characters and want to keep reading it until you find out what is going to happen to them all.
This is Cather's final novel, and is based on family history. It's a fascinating look at race, power, the meaning of family, and the fate of an empire when its empress is ill/aging. The Virginia setting is a surprise to those who know Cather only as a Nebraska writer, but these are her roots. A powerful read.
After putting down Cathers A Lost Lady, I did exactly what I predicted; I started another. The pangs of jealousy ring clearly in this pre-civil war novel set in the Virginia backcountry. Little by little we are fed the background that has created in each character either bias or tolerance of slavery. The title mistress seethes with jealousy as she imagines that her maid is overly kind to the master. Thus she develops a machination to ruin the maid. Her husband, the master, is overly abiding to her whims and is in fact a conjugal coward. Along the way we are introduced to the Underground Railroad and the dilemma of manumission.