Nowhere in England avoids the loss of young men during the First World War and the village of Shallowford is no exception. Many never return and the lives of those who do are changed forever.
Paul Craddock must rebuild the estate and the bonds broken between those who belong there. It is a time of huge social change and there are peacetime challenges as hard to surmount as those of war. And before they are met, Germany once again threatens the stability of Europe.
I’d advise listening to Book 1 of this trilogy before the present book as there are so many characters populating this second volume whose back-stories started in the earlier book. Book 2 continues to follow the life of Paul Craddock in his chosen life in Devon and the narrative re-starts just before the start of the First World War.
The first half of the present book is over-shadowed by the FIrst World War and the sad loss of people that I felt I’d come to know. The sombre tone lifts in the second half with numerous marriages and births and life getting back on an even keel. Dark clouds return with the slump at the end of the 1920s and then later the signs that there may be another war. This second volume ends in 1941 and I’ll certainly be downloading the final part as I’ve become drawn into the lives of the characters and want to know what happens to them.
I enjoyed this long book that takes one back into what life must have been like for people in a rural area in the early to mid 20th century and how world events impinged on their lives.
The only things that I found irritating about the narrative were the numerous and too long, sugary episodes describing Paul and his wife Clare’s sex life and the author’s frequent and self-indulgent, lascivious delight in describing Clare’s body!
The narrator’s ability overt accents and different voices made the book more of a drama than a mere reading.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Delderfield's story reels you in to a different era, and you can't help but enjoy the continuation. Although some of the much-loved characters from the first in the series of course are no longer with us, many remain with new characters coming along too.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I listened to this book straight after the first and with some trepidation in case it was not as good but I needn't have worried. Delderfield had woven such an intricate picture of the valley and it's inhabitants that starting this new book was like slipping back in to a much loved home.
The story focuses slightly less on the Craddock family than it did before and more on their tenants, friends and neighbours than before before, during and after the war years. The Craddock's are the ribbon that flows through it all and keeps everything anchored together.
In a country where the losses of World War One were terribly apparent to all communities they are magnified in the rural villages where the men leaving for war almost brings the agricultural businesses to a standstill and what has been clawed back from derelict farms and moor during the last book is in danger of being lost.
The account of the war years are personal, raw and heartbreaking. The characters by now feel like friends and are so well written that you cannot help but feel a deep fondness and on occasion love for them all.
Each character evolves and changes, Delderfield is brilliant at expressing the passage of time and adjusting to the era without it looking forced or jerky.
Absolutely loved this book and highly recommend.
There is a difference between authors writing about times they have lived through and those treating it as a historical exercise. The pieces on WW1 and the agricultural depression are excellent. The loss of so many lovable characters is trying but an accurate reflection of the blood letting. Would have loved more on the 1920s and feel somewhat cheated. Thankfully there is humour and you are left feeling optimistic for the remaining characters as they prepare for WW2.
Am I the only person to be put in mind of the radio soap The Archers set a hundred years ago? There are the long passages where nothing much seems to happen interspersed with occasional melodramatic episodes - a plane crash, a young woman giving birth in a cave etc. There is a cast of comic rustic characters - ably portrayed by Jonathan Oliver, references to events of the day, a central character whose first wife Grace meets a tragic end, and a fair amount of squirm-inducing sex among the middle-aged - I didn't mind too much but it might be off-putting for the young. I had listened to the first book in this trilogy without realising there was more to come, and I plan to get the third volume, but feel in need of something a little racier - a good thriller perhaps - before I return to the Sorrel Valley.
Any additional comments?
I read R F Delderfield as a young woman and had forgotten how much I loved the writing in these books. What a wonderful return with a brilliant just perfect reading. Listened through this book in one weekend. If you like family sagas you will love these books. Just make sure you listen to both of them.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful