The story of recently paroled convict Percy Talbott, who is looking for somewhere to start over, and rural Gilead, WI, seems just the place. She takes a job at the Spitfire Grill, a crumbling diner where the townsfolk congregate and gossip, run by a feisty widow named Hannah. Hannah has been trying to sell the diner to escape from the painful memories it holds, but the property has been on the market for a decade with no takers.
Soon, Percy hatches a plan to hold a raffle for ownership of the Spitfire Grill—for one hundred dollars and an essay about why they might want the Grill, anyone can enter the contest. As the seasons change and rumors about her past build, the contest entries begin to roll in, and Percy starts to realize that she's not the only person in Gilead with a history.