Raintree County (1957)
It’s the mid-nineteenth century in Freehaven, Raintree County, Indiana. John Shawnessy has just graduated from high school at the top of his class, with a promising career as a writer. He is a romantic, principled, and an idealist, believing the story of the golden raintree – after which the county is named – growing somewhere, most likely in the county’s swamp area, searching for and locating it which would provide all the answers to one’s life questions. An idea passed down from his father, John also has a strong sense of place as belonging, and as such there is much anticipation in the probable marriage between John and his sweetheart Nell Gaither, a born and bred Raintree girl. However, there is an undeniable mutual attraction on first sight between John and Susanna Drake, a visiting southern belle. Despite Susanna’s temporary stay in Raintree County which means that she and John may not have a future, they eventually do marry out of circumstance, leaving behind a heartbroken Nell. As their relationship progresses, differences in their life outlooks mirroring the differences between the north and south start to emerge, and which are brought to the forefront both personally and on a global level with the onset of the American Civil War. Their relationship issues are also exacerbated by secrets, both facts and beliefs, Susanna is keeping about her family history, with her parents and her black nanny being killed in a mysterious house fire when Susanna was a child.