Winner of the Friends of American Writers Award for Fiction
As seamstresses, the young sisters Emilia and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, mend, and conceal useful skills in the lawless backcountry of Brazil, where ruthless land barons feud with bands of outlaw cangaceiros, trapping innocent residents in the crossfire. Emilia, a naive romantic, dreams of falling in love with a gentleman and escaping to a big city. Quick-tempered Luzia also longs for escape, finding it in her craft and secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life. But when Luzia is abducted by cangaceiros led by the infamous Hawk and Emilia stumbles into a marriage with the son of a wealthy and politically powerful doctor, the sisters' quiet lives diverge in ways they never would have imagined. "