Gally and her husband Mike have moved to a small village in Somerset to make a new start. Gally feels strangely drawn to a run-down old farmhouse so they buy this and camp out in a caravan until the house is restored to its former condition. Soon after moving, they meet Ferney, an old man who Gally finds herself as drawn to as she is to the house.
Ferney has in fact lived many incarnations in this area and believes that Gally has accompanied him through the ages. He has vivid memories of how the place used to be and a strong sense of the losses due to so called progress.
He stretched out an arm and pointed down the hill. "The wood you painted, down there, stretching across the first part of the plain, that was nibbled away. They started eating at it about, oh shall we say 1500? A hundred years it took. It went for fuel, for ships, for building....... After that King James gave the rest to his benighted friends to hack down for their benighted purses".
Mike is a historian, but his book learned understanding is never as vivid or as clear as Ferney's lived understanding.
It's a vivid, moving story that makes the reader think about reincarnation and the nature of relationships as well as about how history affects the cultural and environmental aspects of our lives and the places we live in. The downside is that Ferney and Gally aren't exactly likeable and don't seem to care about the effect their obsessional love has on other people.
The Lives She Left Behind, the sequel to Ferney has just been published and promises to be another excellent read!
Ferney by James Long published by Quercus
I was delighted to win this book in a competition over on Cornflower Books.
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