In a remote hill farm in beautiful Scotland, Ellen and her father Duncan are enjoying a peaceful life away from the belching mills and hustle and bustle of the growing towns. In time they’re joined by rugged farmhand Tom, come to lend some muscle to Ellen’s ageing father, who has begun to find sheep farming hard to manage alone. Almost inevitably romance grows between Ellen and the new arrival but once married, however, Ellen discovers that Tom has a brutish side to his character. As war in Europe spreads, she begins to dream of him leaving for the trenches as a way for her to escape.
Even with Tom fighting abroad, however, the family cannot hide from the realities of war as a group of POWs are brought to their valley to build a reservoir. And amongst the men, sworn enemies and shunned by all the locals, Ellen finds a gentler heart that she is difficult to resist…
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A different perspective on the effect of WW1, which explores the horror of war at the front and the battles fought by those left behind. Told, mainly from Ellen and Tom’s points of view the reader sees life on a Scottish sheep farm and in the trenches before and during WW1.
Tom decides to move from Yorkshire to Scotland for personal reasons, his relationship with Ellen happens by chance when his plans go awry, and it proves to be troubled from the start. Tom’s youth may excuse some of his actions, but his personality has many dark areas, which lead to violence and withdrawal from his new family, these are described well in this story, and the outcome is not a surprise. The trench scenes from WW1 are descriptive and convey the horror for the young soldiers in vivid detail.
Ellen never knew her mother and so has no female guidance when faced with Tom’s interest and questionable behaviour to a such a young girl. She has to grow up quickly and becomes a strong, likeable woman who always puts her family first. The hardship and heartbreak Ellen suffers is poignant reading.
The characters are well-written and realistic and the setting dramatic and unforgiving. The historical element adds depth to this emotional story and puts the characters’ actions and interactions in perspective.
The ending is full of hope for Ellen and has an air of inevitability for Tom. Hopefully, Ellen’s next chapter will be in a sequel?
Born and brought up in the south of England, the eldest girl of nine children, Dee moved north to Yorkshire to study medicine. She remained there, working in well-woman medicine and general practice and bringing up her three daughters. She retired slightly early at the end of 2003, in order to start writing, and wrote two books in the next three years. In 2007 she moved further north, to the beautiful Southern Uplands of Scotland. Here she fills her time with her three grandsons, helping in the local museum, the church and the school library, walking, gardening and reading. She writes historical fiction, poetry and more recently non-fiction. Occasionally she gets to compare notes with her youngest sister Sarah Flint who writes crime with blood-curdling descriptions which make Dee want to hide behind the settee.