In Honor in Concord, Cathryn McIntyre tells the story of the first year she lived in the historic town of Concord, Massachusetts in an antique home she calls "Quiet House" on a street named for Henry David Thoreau. One day she sets out to record the images of Concord's past that are always on her mind and what results is a fictional story told within the pages of memoir in which the writers of mid-19th century Concord (i.e., Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller and Alcott) are living new lives in Concord in present day.
Honor in Concord is set at all the historic locations in Concord, including The Old Manse, The Emerson's Home, Orchard House, The Wayside and Walden Pond and there are short vignettes throughout the story that open up like windows into Concord's literary past. One moment we see Julie watching her young daughter performing at her dance recital and the next we see her as Sophia Hawthorne walking in the yard of the Wayside as her children run about in play and her husband, Nathaniel looks on. One moment we see Sarah having a flirtatious lunch with Richard at the West Street Grill in Boston, the place where the Hawthornes once wed, and then we see Sarah walking across the same floor where she had stood as Margaret Fuller conducting her "conversations" about the conditions faced by the women of her day.
Richard and Julie Hazzard are happily married but one day Richard wakes up feeling bored. On the train into Boston, he meets Sarah and what begins as an innocent flirtation soon becomes the catalyst that prompts Richard's self-reflection. Will he risk losing all that he has to break the monotony of his life and satisfy his desire for Sarah? Not if his friend, Ed, has anything to say about it. Ed lives a life of honor and Richard admires that, but he doesn't believe he can live up to the code that Ed lives by.
Julie is an artist who has set her art aside and devoted herself fully to Richard and their children. Now she wonders if in doing so a part of herself has been lost. She envies her friend, Emma, who in her past life as schoolteacher, Martha Hunt chose to drown herself in the river in Concord rather than live her life in the way Julie does now.
The themes of love, trust, freedom, devotion, history, ghosts and reincarnation are there in the memoir as well, as McIntyre also struggles with her desire for freedom and her inability to trust her instincts that have led her to Concord and to a destiny that hadn't yet been fully revealed.