Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence.
On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news of his crime. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door?
‘Jake and Edith followed the sheep-trods up the side of the fell, moving through last year’s bracken frost-scorched a deep rust colour. They paused to catch their breaths, taking swigs from their water bottles, listening to the wheels of lapwing in the sky’
What a beautifully described tale this is. I read it in a day and was transported to the landscape of the North Yorkshire Moors whilst also reading a thoroughly absorbing story. Told in both the present and recent months, we follow Jake, a widower in his seventies, on the run from the police and others wanting revenge for a crime he has committed.
On a ‘tour de force’ of the most wonderfully descriptive writing we travel with Jake through his local landscape as he hides out, evading capture for as long as possible. During this time,and here with the use of flashbacks, we learn of his past and of the reasons behind Jake’s act of violence.
Still mourning the death of his wife we learn about his wife Edith and of his son William and read of the joy and pain they both bring to him
‘Those endless blissful days on the beach. Those indestructible bonds’
‘The scroll of waves mimics Jake’s pulse, ebb and flow dragging pebbles and sand, misery and regret. Across the shelf of the sea Jake stares, feeling shipwrecked. This coast is his heart, the waves its liquid pulse. The itch of tears on his cheeks. Pain is all he has left of them now.’
We also follow his friend and sometimes lover Sheila, as she learns of the rumours surrounding Jake and read of her concerns for his well being and whereabouts. It is also partly her story of her escape to Scarborough to get away from the burdens and responsibilities her daughter puts upon her, the strained relationship she has with her mother and of her life as a currently single woman of 50.
‘She pulls the view into her, feeling it at the centre of her being.’
I found this a gorgeous read about love and grief, and of the consequences a persons actions can have on another. It is beautifully written and seamlessly mixes an array of emotions in it’s wonderfully described characters, and feelings from the beautiful but equally harsh landscape of the area. I loved the way the sense and vocabulary of the book changed slighted for each character and the way the book used time to break up the story lines.
A highly recommended read.
A big thank you to Scott Pack of Eye/Lightning Books for my gorgeous copy.
The book is available to buy now.