In 1838, Arabella Godwin and her brother, Lewis, are orphaned and sent to live on their aunt's desolate farm in upstate New York. Time and again she will be broken and remade. She will bear a gambler's child, build a fortune, commit murder, leave a trail of aliases in her wake and sacrifice almost everything for the man whose love she cannot bear to lose. Her destiny takes her to Gold Rush California... where she disappears. A sweeping historical tale based on the life and times of the daughter of a New York merchant finds the orphaned Belle suffering at the hands of a rival cousin before working as a prostitute and transforming herself repeatedly to win the love and life she desires.