Sylvanus Now is the youngest of four boys growing up in a fishing outport in Newfoundland on Canada's Atlantic coast in the 1950's. He lives with his mother, a widow, whose husband drowned, along with one of their sons, while fishing.
It is a difficult life, but Sylvanus loves the fishing, the ocean, his small outport home town, and the beautiful but harsh environment.
And he falls in love with Adelaide, a beautiful girl from a neighbouring outport. He saves his hard-earned money to buy a suit which he will wear to go and visit her.
Adelaide, meanwhile, hates her life as the oldest of many children. She feels her life is one of drudgery, scrubbing floors and looking after babies. Her one solace is going to school - she is bright and loves to read- and visiting the little church, where she dreams of going far away to become a missionary. It is very hard when she has to leave school to work with the fishery to help support the family.
She gets to leave home, but it is to the neighbouring outport, as the wife of Sylvanus. They love one another, and Sylvanus will do anything to make his Addy happy. He builds a nice house and promises she won't have to work with the fish again.
But things don't quite turn out as they hoped. The local way of fishing is being threatened. There are fewer and fewer fish, and the government, by trying to help, is making things more difficult for the fishermen. Some are willing to try the new ways, but Sylvanus stubbornly sticks to the way of life he believes in.
Adelaide's first baby is still-born, and then two subsequent babies die at birth. The young parents grieve in their own way, Addy by isolating herself, and Sylvanus by working longer and harder. Adelaide finally does find solace in helping her mother-in-law, Eva, with her garden.
The two women draw closer to one another, and Addy also comes to see the love and caring in her sisters-in-law, especially Suse, who had just irritated her before. Both Sylvanus and Adelaide grow and change in remarkable ways, considering their circumstances.
When the government decides to move the families of their outport to a different outport, where they will build schools and roads, Sylvanus and Adelaide are able to respond in a way that is true to themselves and to each other.
This synopsis report prepared by Tena van't Foort