Once upon a time in Los Angeles, water was everywhere--in rivers that rendered the vast plain a marsh; in underground streams that provided an abundance of water for people, cattle and crops. This is the lush landscape that the young Henry Scott encounters when he arrives, half-dead, in the pueblo of Los Angeles in 1843, during the waning days of Mexican rule. In this fertile place along the Los Angeles River, Scott's fortunes begin to change. His story is intertwined with that of a wealthy rancher (inspired by the historical figure John Temple), whose kind will change life in California forever; a determined Tongva Indian woman, Big Headed Girl, whom Scott comes to love; and Padre José, a Franciscan friar who embodies the brutality of the mission system, yet tenderly cultivates the fragile beauty of his beloved passion flowers. As these stories unfold and converge, Barbara Crane's precise and lyrical prose, and her deft weaving of historical fact and human drama, make for the richest of fictional tapestries--both epic and intimate in scale, infused with a sense of loss, but also with hard-won hope and the possibility of redemption.