On the surface, Ramey Stewart has it all. She is married to the most powerful man in Wichita; she is beautiful and rich beyond the dream of avarice. But there is one thing missing from her perfect life: children. After she suffers her eighth miscarriage, Ramey dissolves into a lengthy and crippling depression. Her mother, Linnaia, takes Ramey to church to try to pray for healing. While at church, Ramey encounters an old friend from college named Kate, who now works for a maternity home. Ramey’s depression endures and worsens with her alcohol abuse. Ramey’s husband, Gus, pleads with Ramey to seek professional help, which Ramey refuses. Ramey’s anxiety and paranoia starts to interfere with her ability to navigate reality and perception. She experiences a mental lapse in a restaurant, and then after fleeing from men that chase her out of an abandoned mall where Ramey goes to exercise, Ramey is in a terrible car accident that sends her into a three-day coma. When she wakes up, Ramey has a new and profound relationship with religion. This leads her to seek out Kate’s maternity home, Sacred Heart House. At the Sacred Heart House, Ramey meets a surly young pregnant girl named Tilly. Ramey then learns that the maternity house also serves to help raise local orphans in their on-site children’s center. The Sacred Heart House provides fulfillment and happiness in ways that Ramey’s home and marriage can no longer do. She also creates a bond with Tilly. Later, Kate asks Ramey to join them in their protest of a local abortion clinic. When Ramey believes that Tilly has had a late term abortion, Ramey begins to plot the murder of the clinic’s CEO. Her paranoia and inability to gauge reality from fantasy brings Ramey to carry out her plot. After the murder, Gus leaves Wichita and Kate turns her back on Ramey. The only solace Ramey has is the belief that she carried out God’s will.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Critical introduction -- Wichita Barren