MYRA HARGRAVE MCILVAIN. Stein House. 288 pages, softcover, $20.99.

Helga Heinrich and her children sail into Indianola, Texas, in 1853, determined to overcome the legacy of the drowning as the ship left the German port. Helga operates Stein House for boarders of all stripes whose involvement in a town on the edge of frontier influences all their lives: the cruelties of yellow fever and slavery, the wrenching choices of Civil War and Reconstruction, murder, alcoholism, and the devastation wrought by the hurricane of 1886.