A snug country house, a snowy landscape in a place that could be Prince Edward Island, a small-town lawyer bumbling through an emotional crisis — Close to the Fire is a winter's tale that warms the heart while gently chilling the blood. Many years ago, the lawyer (then a student) persuaded the woman who is now his wife to desert Orland, her older husband, and run away with him. Now Orland arrives on their doorstep to die. The lawyer recalls the moral force her exerted to make Marijke change loyalties instead of simply enjoying a little adultery. Does sheltering a dying man atone for stealing his wife? The lawyer doesn't know and isn't sure he cares until a dramatic fire and Orland's death rearrange the domestic hearth.