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In this complex chronicle of the evolution of a provincial family's life, the story follows three generations of at least two neighboring families from the 1890s to the 1970s. In one of many related tales, a man who was engaged to the older daughter of a farmer elopes with the younger one. After many years and the birth of five children, the man leaves his wife and family for the bright lights of the city but continues turning up from time to time, until he is finally taken into the home of one of his sons when he is a quite old man. The complex interactions of the legitimate and illegitimate children of a womanizing miner give rise to yet another set of related stories.