In 1867 a good-natured Bavarian priest, is sent by God and mad King Ludwig to the wilds of North America. Soon the backwoods are transformed into a parish and the settlers into a congregation, and Joseph Becker, a woodcarver, meets his future wife. Several decades later, Joseph Becker teaches his astounding carving skills to his grandchildren. One of them, Klara, shows exceptional talent and has a surfeit of what the local nuns call "a fondness for men's work." Untamed, she falls in love with an Irish boy, Eamon O'Sullivan, only to have him leave to fight in the Great War . . .