Will Ben ever escape the Landing? The hardscrabble farm on the shores of Lake Muskoka can't generate a living, so Ben's Uncle Henry sells goods and gas to cottagers from the dock known as Cooks Landing. It had never been much of a living and since the Depression hit, it's even less.
Ben's thinking a lot these days, and it's making him miserable. He's thinking about how unfair it is that his uncle only cares about work. He's thinking about what he really wants to do: play the violin. These days, he's lucky to snatch the odd bit of practice between chores, playing to the chickens in the henhouse.
A new job fixing up the grand old cottage on nearby Pine Island seems at first to be just one more thing to keep Ben away from his violin. After he meets the island's owner, Ben changes his mind. Ruth Chapman is a cultured and wealthy woman from New York who introduces Ben to an unfamiliar, liberating world. After Ben plays violin for Ruth and her admiring friends, it only makes him more desperate to flee. Then, during a stormy night on Lake Muskoka, everything changes.