World-famous photographer Lorne Winter tumbles from a plane to his death in the flames of a spectacular forest fire in northern Ontario which he's been shooting - an event telecast live across North America. This stunning public death wrenches from the past a series of revelations and discoveries. For the plane's pilot, Sally Groves - who was Lorne's lover briefly many years earlier - the fire evokes a 1966 blaze, with its unwanted secrets, that destroyed her family's New York woods. For Lorne's adopted son, Gabe Winter, the event spirals him toward self-discovery and a new identity.
This is a subtly-layered novel of uncommon, deeply-felt sensitivity, circling around and around the resistant recovery of the past and its haunting import for these people in their struggle to resolve and forgive the memory of troubling events that Lorne's death has rekindled in each of them. Throughout, also, is the principal thread of the effects of the disruptions of the 60s which brought many Americans to Canada, and what it means to live in these two vastly different cultures.