Winfield, Iowa, 1918. Colonel Wallace Carson, the ruler of a vast agricultural empire, asks Ann Hardy, his ten-year-old granddaughter and eventual heir, to promise she will safeguard The Northeast Quarter, the choice piece of land from which the empire was founded. Ann readily accepts — little knowing what awaits her. When the Colonel is killed unexpectedly the same afternoon, the world around Ann and her family begins to fall apart.
Against the background of America sliding from a post war boom into the Great Depression, The Northeast Quarter tells the story of Ann’s struggle to keep a promise no matter what. She witnesses the remarriage of her grandmother to Royce Chamberlin, the seemingly humble banker who institutes a reign of terror over the household and proceeds to corrupt the entire town.
Over the next ten years Ann matches wits with Chamberlin, enduring betrayal, banishment, and even physical violence. She grows from a precocious child into a tough-minded young woman — watching, observing her enemy, and waiting for the moment to make her move.
And when the moment comes in July 1929, life in Winfield will never be the same.