When the biggest ice storm of the century hits Martinsville and knocks out all the power, Biscuit and Bob's huge old house with its wood-burning stove becomes a shelter where many of their friends take refuge. While the men play poker and chess downstairs, Biscuit and the other women head up to the cavernous attic and begin to sort through generations of discards.
A penny whistle, a pocket watch, a hobby horse, and numerous hats reveal the checkered past of Beechnut House. Even an old circus poster has a story to tell.
No one has ever known why the original Martins settled in a dead-end valley that is so difficult to find. When one of the women discovers a set of two-hundred-year-old diaries in the bottom of a trunk, the mysterious history of Martinsville—all of it based on a lie—begins to come to life.