Marty Vaughn chronicles the life of a woman born in late 19th century Iowa. Daughter of a German maid and an English nobleman, Marty spends her earliest years in England. Due to her father's untimely passing, however, her mother sends her back to the United States to live with an aunt and uncle on an Iowa farm. Once her mother remarries, she also returns to the United States with her new husband. Marty is reunited with her mother, and in the ensuing years she completes school, finds work in a hotel, falls in love, and marries. As she matures, she begins to have experiences of a supernatural nature. Woven into the fine details of rural Iowa living, births, deaths, and the mysteries of a fine wooden trunk are all presented with Midwestern frankness and quiet passion.