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Is 1921, and a band of young Jewish pioneers, many escaping violent homelands, have set out to realize a utopian dream--the founding of a kibbutz--on a patch of land that will later become Israel. Writing with a tightly controlled intensity, Alison Pick takes us inside the very different minds of her three key characters--two young unmarried women, one plain and one beautiful, escaping peril in Russia and Europe; and one slightly older man, a group leader who is married with two children--to depict how idealism quickly tumbles into pragmatism, and how the utopian dream is punctured by messy human entanglements. This is also the story of the land itself (present-day Israel and Palestine), revealing with sympathy and terrible irony how the enthusiastic newcomers chose to ignore the subtle but undeniable fact that their valley was already populated, home to a people that the pioneers did not want to see.