Pub Date 22 Jun 2018
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Passion and evil played out in Bosnia and rural England.
Hustled aboard a military aircraft out of the horrific Bosnian conflict, newsman James Lambert struggles to come to terms with the trauma of the Sarajevo siege.
Haunted by memories of his dead lover he seeks refuge on a small farm set amid the glorious countryside of the Welsh Marches. He simply wants peace and renewal in a different, quieter life and to write about the confusion and savagery of civil war.
Entranced by the unspoiled beauty of the border land straddling England and Wales he settles slowly into a community which seems to him a time warp of ideas and behaviour.
But the thread of darkness which began in the Balkans reappears when his act of kindness to a vulnerable girl drags him into a family dispute.
"This story kept me gripped right through to the shocking end and left me thinking much more about the contrast between the natural world and the cruelty, jealousy and greed that man imposes upon it. The drama unfolds against the backdrop of the raw beauty of Shropshire and the tragedy that was 1990s Bosnia. The hidden rivalries and misplaced loyalties that exist just below the surface in the small rural community are laid out skilfully by the author. The conflict in Bosnia is used very effectively to demonstrate the extremes of rivalry and prejudice within communities and how we often naively think that we, in our own villages are safe and protected. One assumes that the author has a love and knowledge of nature and farming as these form a significant and convincing part of the novel. I loved this book and would thoroughly recommend it to those who enjoy nature, love and raw drama."
"The tale of James and Kate, a young woman from Shropshire and Katya, the daughter of a café owner in war torn Sarajevo. So an unusual mixture of settings and a story set in 1990’s England with flashbacks to the Bosnian war earlier in the decade.
James is a foreign correspondent reporting on the siege of Sarajevo when he meets and falls in love with Katya amongst the dereliction. Driven by love he persuades her to escape with him only for her to be killed by a snipers bullet within sight of freedom.
We first encounter James living on a hilltop farm in rural Shropshire as he seeks the solitude to overcome his grief and as he struggles to write the memoir he has contracted to complete. His love of the wild countryside is elegantly described and is a striking contrast to the death and destruction he has left behind. And then Kate appears…
“Compare and contrast” used to be the start of an essay title. It applies very well to this book – the historical rivalries, grudges and prejudices of a rural village are not so dissimilar to the rivalries, grudges and prejudices in Bosnia that led to civil war and the horrors of ethnic cleansing. A good solid read, covering the full spectrum of human emotions."
"Moving on from his work reporting on the atrocities of the Bosnian conflict and experiencing the killing there of the woman he was planning to bring back to England as his bride, James Lambert is seeking a fresh start in Shropshire. Contracted to writing his memoirs while also tending animals on a small farm he is determined to achieve a gentler life. Before long, however, he’s drawn into the life of a young, local woman, Kate. As their relationship grows, as Kate’s back story is revealed and the atrocities in Shropshire are built layer on layer, James is continually drawn, emotionally and physically, back to Bosnia. Juxtaposing the events in both locations the book develops the themes that evil, often hidden just beneath a veneer of decency and normality, can take form in the most unlikely places, and that, although there will be survivors and casualties, these are not necessarily justly determined. This is not a feel-good read to settle into and brighten the cold days. But, it is well-written and the development of the plot provides gripping reading, and, importantly, it provokes thought and reflection."