It is 1873, and twenty-three-year-old Gretchen Haager is a victim of the formidable Frau Sandenberg, who is applying medieval rules for the servants working in her household at the Gluckmutter Villa. When Georg Shillenberg delivers coal to the villa, he witnesses her plight, feels a strong compassion for her, and helps her escape to her family’s farm.
When Frau Sandenberg discovers that Georg is a deserter from Bismarck’s army, she notifies an army officer of his whereabouts, and her vindictiveness only increases once she realizes that Gretchen is gone as well. Meanwhile, Georg and Gretchen fall in love and attempt to start a new life together, in spite of the fact that Georg must remain in hiding. But Frau Sandenberg continues to push the authorities to hunt the fugitive, to the point of accusing him of murder. Now only time will tell whether the young family can escape police pursuit and get themselves safely away to the distant shore of another land.
Set in nineteenth-century Germany, this historical novel tells the tale of a young, beleaguered servant and an army deserter who fall in love despite the difficulties they face.