When mail-order bride Inge arrives in Minnesota in 1920 to marry a young Norwegian farmer named Olaf, her German heritage and lack of official immigration papers makes her an object of suspicion in the small town, and she and Olaf are forbidden to marry.
Alone and adrift, Inge goes to live with the family of Olaf's friend and neighbor Frandsen and his wife Brownie, where she learns the English language, American ways and a hard-won independence.
Inge and Olaf slowly come to know each other, and against the backdrop of endless farmland and cathedral skies they fall in love--a man and woman united by the elemental forces of nature. Still unable to marry, they live together openly, despite the scorn of the neighbors and the disapproval of the local minister.
But when his friend Frandsen's farm is threatened by foreclosure, Olaf takes a stand, and the community unites around the young couple, finally accepting Inge as one of their own.