Jack Borden, an RCAF pilot, is in Halifax awaiting transport to England, and he meets Shelagh Pearson of the RCAF Women's Division also awaiting orders. A complicated whirlwind wartime courtship ensues.
This is primarily Jack's story. Gaps between the Second World War and present day 2007 are filled and augmented via Jack's recollections of experiences as a Lancaster bomber pilot, wartime letters and flashbacks. Shelagh and Jack's daughters, Karen and Cassandra, are born shortly after the war. Shelagh continues to define her own course. Shelagh's covert involvement in cold war undercover activities, demands the family's return to post-war Scotland where Jack nurtures toddler Karen in a role reversal. Eventually Shelagh's prowess as a photographer returns them to Canada where Jack re-establishes himself in journalism.
By 2007, Jack, alone without Shelagh, develops symptoms resembling dementia, perhaps Alzheimer's but daughter Karen, a physician, is never convinced. Jack’s grandson Jeremy and his friend, Roberto, both graduate students experiment with a cure.
When Jack's dementia appears to ameliorate, Karen, unaware of unethical experimentation, arranges a revisit to Jack's former airfield.
Lincoln Cathedral remains a bold foundational symbol that enfolds the plot.