Drawing on the life of her great-grandfather author Shirley Skidmore recreates a gripping story of the 'coffin' ships that brought Irish famine survivors to Canada. Most did not survive the harrowing voyage but those who did were further challenged by the harsh life meted out in the New World. Desmond O'Mallory survives the horrendous voyage on a 'coffin ship' from Ireland but loses his grandmother on the trip so he arrives in Canada alone at the age of nine. He is helped along the journey by sympathetic people and is eventually adopted by a German baker and his wife. Desmond marries well and amasses a great fortune but he can never forget the heartache. In order to rise in the society of the day he never speaks of his early beginnings even though they burn a huge hole in his heart. In time Desmond's life provides the insights needed to bring him to a place of peace and resolution.