What is the real story behind the young man who comes to Glen Lyon and begins building a house with his own hands. He could be an early farmer; he could be a clansman; he could be a survivor of Culloden. It's only when Somerled Stewart comes down after the winter to the village and sets eyes on Anna, the daughter of the blacksmith, that the mists begin to clear. Yet, although this story settles somewhere in the 20th century, Somerled Stewart himself always remains something of a timeless figure - his own ancestor. He longs to build a perfect world about him of wood and stone, as he yearns to create a flawless happiness with Anna, his bride. He must even find the gold for her wedding ring from the river; he could not bear the thought of buying it. It is only when he returns for a few days with his sister to the west coast home where they grew up that we begin to understand the forces that drive him. Both siblings are returning to a place that holds memories of deep unhappiness. The perfect beauty of the place masks the darkness that lies within for each of them.
When Somerled learns that Anna is to have a child, he fears that all that haunts him will be passed on to the next generation. He is profoundly aware that the perfect world he longs to build keeps breaking, and that often the flaws are in his own hands. In the end, the answers he seeks to find are contained in the glen itself.