* As the novel begins, the narrator, Collin Fenwick, describes the landscape of River Woods, the site of the China tree that sits near a field of tall Indian grass near the town cemetery.
* Collin recalls the circumstances that brought him to live with his father's two cousins, Verena and Dolly Talbo, unmarried women unaccustomed to the care of children, following the death of his parents.
* Verena owns most of the businesses in town while Dolly keeps the big house where the family resides.
* Dolly's friend, Catherine, who claims to be Indian but most people consider her black, lives in a small building at the back of the Talbo house.
* Dolly gathers herbs in the woods to make a dropsy potion, which she sends by mail order all over the state.
* While Dolly is ethereal, gentle and soft-spoken living in her bedroom painted floor and ceiling in pink...
This section contains 2,155 words
(approx. 8 pages at 300 words per page)