Old Woman is set in Clay Corners Virginia at the end of the 1990's but flashes back to a time in the forties when the central character Genevieve Clay is having a love affair with James Abel "Clark" Clarksdale, a soldier. Genevieve Clay's obsessive love for the WWII soldier is crucial to the plot of Old Woman but there are other loves and lives which directly impact her destiny. For example Tiny Clay, Genevieve's husband, has an affair with Mollie Mae Bell and from this liaison a child is born. Janet and Jarrett Lehman, a childless couple living on Virginia's Eastern Shore, adopt this baby and ten years later have their own child Penny, who figures prominently into Genevieve's life. As an adult Penny finds her way to Clay Corners where she comes face to face with almost certain death at the hands of her adopted sister, Stephanie, who discovers her in Genevieve Clay's basement where she has been hiding. Penny's only hope of escape from her sister at this time is if ex-convict Jasper Banks, who has been looking in the basement window, can change his proverbial stripes. The same evening that Penny is hoping for a rescue from Stephanie, a half-mad Genevieve Clay believes that the ghostly form she glimpses through her basement window is her former lover Clark. Even though Genevieve Clay is allowed only seven clandestine meetings with Clark Clarksdale, not even death erases her haunting love for him.
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