Truly Plaice has been dealt a difficult hand in life. Born as the biggest baby ever seen in Aberdeen, her mother dies in childbirth. Truly is left with her father and her sister, Serena Jane, who is the town beauty. Truly definately is not the town beauty. She remains large and gets bigger all the time, well out of the normal scheme of growth. She is shunned by other children and mocked by most she meets. When Truly is eight, her father also dies. The children are separated. Serena James goes to live with a wealthy family, but Truly is sent to live with a poor farmer and his family.
This early start doesn't improve much as Truly becomes an adult. Serena Jane gets pregnant and marries the town doctor, a coldhearted man who treats all around him with contempt. After eight years of marriage, Serena runs off, leaving behind a note to find Truly to come watch her son, Bobbie. The husband, Dr. Robert Morgan, finds Truly and blackmails her into coming to live with the family as an unpaid housekeeper. This is her life for the next fifteen years.
But all is not bleak. Faced with overwhelming pain, Truly still finds a way to make life better for those around her. She becomes a substitute mother to Bobbie, and watching him grow is a wonderful gift. She has two friends. Amelia Dyerson is the daughter of the farm family where Truly grew up, and is like a sister to her. Marcus was the smartest boy in town, but after going to Vietnam, came back wounded physically and emotionally, and now contents himself with being a gardener. He has always loved Truly, and is at the periphery of her life still, giving her kindness. Truly continues to grow and grow, identifed by the doctor as having acromegaly, or giantism.
There is another gift waiting for Truly. The doctor's family can be traced back to the first Robert Morgan, a doctor who came to town and married the town "wisewoman", who had treated the ills and sicknesses of the townspeople with herbs and remedies. This woman, Tabitha Morgan, is still talked of as a local legend, with stories that her spell book was left behind, still to be found. That has never happened. All that is left of her is the marvelous quilt she embroidered and left behind. Truly falls in love with the quilt when she moves into the Morgan house, and takes it for her own. Over time, she comes to realise that the quilt is actually the missing spell book. Truly begins to experiment with the herbal remedies, and soon is helping the townspeople, both with common ailments, and when all hope is gone of a cure, with an early release from life.
This is one of the most original and definately one of the best books I've read this year. Truly, whose life seems one of unmitigated misery, instead finds a way to shine and inspire those around her. The book moves at a fast pace, and the reader falls in love with Truly and is drawn to find out what life has to offer this amazing woman next. I will remember Truly for a long time. This book is recommended for all readers.