Oh, it's nice to get back to something really good after all those non-girly books I had to read over vacation. Willa Cather is a true literary gem. Why isn't she more widely read today?
Anyway, this is a sort of historical novel concerning a Virginia family just before the civil War. They live in the hills of Virginia, not too far from Winchester. Mrs. Colbert, Sapphira, grew up rich and privileged. Her servants are all slaves. Mr. Colbert is a miller, not really of the class or pretentiousness of his spouse. He has some reservations regarding slavery, and would probably turn the slaves free were they not technically his wife's "property". At some point, Sapphira turns against her personal maid, Nancy, aka "the slave girl". She thinks Nancy has something going on with her spouse. She contrives first to sell Nancy, but her spouse blocks that move, because in those days women had agency only through the good grace of their spouses. Then, she contrives to get rid of Nancy by having one of her roguish relatives come visit and have him try to "fool" Nancy, i.e. "seduce" her (well, rape, actually, but that wasn't a word used in polite company in olden times). So, how to save Nancy?
It's rather an interesting account of attitudes people had back in the day toward the humanity or not of others, and once again demonstrates that inherited wealth and privilege can so readily make one an asshole.