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 finds himself caught up in his widowed father Patsy's regular jaunts around Ireland. A new chapter of Joe's life begins when he is offered a job researching the story of the renowned nineteenth-century Derry ship builder, William Coppin, and his strange connection with the fate of the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin - a story in which Joe will find echoes of his own. As Joe's interest in Coppin deepens, the two men's lives converge in powerful interlinked narratives of love and loss, and of the unforeseen ways in which the past can illuminate and transform the present.