Lucas Grundy tires of the larger world he’s lived in for over thirty years where he was so successful and has sought relief for a summer in the place he was born—the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Its sparse population, woods, wildlife, and lakes provide an escape, a peacefulness to think of what he wants to do with the rest of his life.
To his surprise, he finds that the place offers him surcease from his complicated life, a place to live now in the contemplation he seeks. He moves to the edge of Mallard Lake, a place of solitude, good fishing, and abundant wildlife. It is also a place of violent weather, brutal winters, and long idyllic summer days that provide escape from the aggravations that drive his migraines and the discontent of his second marriage. He finds here too, Annie Fallon, twenty years his junior, the daughter of his late father’s companion, who is as displaced as he is and who, after caring for her dying mother, needs to escape the harsh life and her loneliness on “the Upper” and get back to the world Lucas has left behind.
Lucas helps her grieve and find a new life in the larger world. While he does, they form an uncommon love for each other. Annie’s need to leave and Lucas’s need to stay makes her leaving emotionally difficult and confusing for both.