Summoned to the deathbed of a long-ago lover, Evelyn is overcome by emotion. Off her medications, she impulsively steals a kayak and embarks on a quest that takes her deep into the Canadian wilderness in order to find her lost son, Tom. On the way to Sointula, a remote fishing village off Vancouver Island, she gains a traveling companion, Peter Gore, a writer working on the quintessential book on the region. Stymied by illness, writer's block, and whiskey, Peter makes an unlikely and unreliable shipmate and paramour. Tom, the survivor of a gunshot wound that slowed his speech and his drug-dealing, finds solace in his isolated life, collecting data for a whale researcher. As Evelyn and Peter approach, Tom waits for the whales' irregular visits to the water's edge. Like the novels of David Malouf and Jonathan Raban, Sointula is a celebration of place, a novel where the landscape comes as fully alive as its memorable characters.