New Year's Day, 1888: It is the first day of Marantha Waters' new life on San Miguel. She has come with her husband, a Civil War veteran who has taken over the operation of the sheep ranch on the island. But this promised paradise proves to be a damp, wind-ravaged wasteland. As her husband grows increasingly distant from her and their adopted daughter Edith, Marantha's blighted lungs grow weaker.
March, 1930: Another family arrives on San Miguel. Elise Lester is a librarian from New York City; her husband Herbie, a World War I veteran full of manic energy. But the unyielding island is haunted by its history. Will the family be able to cling together as the war threatens to pull everything apart?
San Miguel is a vivid and gripping story of hard lives pitched against the elements, the desires of stubborn men and the unbearable burden of love, from master American storyteller T. C. Boyle.