In a shocking yet all too prosaic moment Joe and Eileen O'Kane experience a terrible tragedy which leaves them bereft. Winter in Derry sets in overnight, as does a chill between the young couple. Eileen turns to her parents for comfort and Joe, somewhat against his will, finds himself caught up in his widowed father Patsy's regular jaunts around Ireland. Joe's life enters a new phase when he is offered a job researching the story of the renowned nineteenth-century Derry shipbuilder, William Coppin. Coppin's intriguing connection with the fate of the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin lies at the heart of the story. Joe finds echoes of his own life in Coppin's, and as his interest deepens, the two men's lives converge in powerful interlinked narratives of love and loss, history and its echoes, and of the unforeseen ways in which the past can illuminate and transform the present.