After the Second World War, Ellen and her daughter Netta make the journey from Germany back to Scotland. Nestled in the hills of the Southern Uplands is the farm where Ellen grew up – the home she left to be with the only man she’s ever loved. She is still haunted by her memories… and the secrets she dare not share with anyone.
Having grown up in Freiburg, farm life is new and exciting to Netta. Determined to be useful, she offers to help new shepherd, Andrew Cameron. But doing so might put her bruised heart at risk…
The war took so much from Ellen and Netta. But maybe now the sanctuary of the hills can offer them the hope of a new beginning.
A heartwrenching Scottish saga.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
At the end of ‘A Last Goodbye’, Ellen decides, after the death of her husband Tom, to follow her love, an ex-prisoner of war in WW1, to his native Germany. I looked back to my review and noted I thought Ellen’s new life deserved a sequel, and this is it.
‘Home to the Hills’ is set predominately at the end of WW2. Ellen and her daughter return to the place of her birth to a make a new life, after suffering the atrocities of the war. Like with the first book, a different minor storyline, is also explored in this book, which adds depth and enriches the story.
The characters in this story are authentic and complex, damaged from what has gone before, but strong and resolute to carry on with their lives. The emotion and hardship faced by the characters, make them realistic, and they draw you into their story. The plot is nicely paced and has enough historical references to allow the reader to appreciate the post WW2 period.
This is addictive reading for anyone who enjoys a beautifully written, immersive and well researched, historical family saga.
Born and brought up in the south of England, the eldest girl of nine children, Dee moved north to Yorkshire to study medicine. She rem
ained 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.
HOME TO THE HILLS – Guest Post – Dee Yates
A remote valley of the Southern Uplands of Scotland was my home for a year when I first moved over The Border. The beautiful Southern Uplands is little known and under-explored, visitors to Scotland usually passing straight through on their way to Glasgow, Edinburgh and The Highlands.
My cats and I made the move from Yorkshire in 2007, eager to be near growing family. I had decided to rent a property, so I could look at leisure for a cottage to buy. On a farm sitting on the valley side was a shepherd’s cottage waiting for an occupant. It was ideal. For miles in each direction I could see nothing but hills and sheep. I knew nothing about farming but that year, with the help of the farmer, I learned a lot.
I also learned some of the history of the valley. A couple of miles east of where I was staying is a large reservoir, planned before the start of WW1, to supply water to the growing industrial towns further north. Building of the reservoir was being hampered because labourers were enlisting in the army and going off to The Front. Many did not return. To ease the shortage of labour, German POWs were brought into the valley.
I learned all this from the farmer. He showed me where the prisoners had camped, across from the farm, in the autumn of 1916, until the weather became too bad and they had to build accommodation further into the valley. I walked east to where the peaceful reservoir lies cupped in the hills and reflects in its water the coniferous forests that clothe the valley sides.
This was the background for my first book, ‘A Last Goodbye’. Its sequel, ‘Home to the Hills’, continues the story of a mother and her daughter, returning home after many years away from the valley. For the mother it holds many memories, both good and bad; for the daughter it is a place she can barely remember and she now has to make a new life for herself in this beautiful but remote part of a strange country. What can she do? Will she be accepted or will she be forever an outsider? And will she and her mother be able to put behind them the horrors of the recent years? Part of this horror was the treatment of Jews in Germany, something that has been the subject of a number of recent books. It is something that should never be forgotten. It is up to succeeding generations to build relationships and learn to live together with all people. I am proud of the way my daughters have become Europeans, one of my daughters studying German and French, living in both and teaching in the south of Germany for a year. To my mind this is the way to prevent the horrors of the World Wars from ever happening again. My family has been immensely saddened at the decision to pull out of the European Economic Community. Togetherness brings a widening of vision and depth of understanding of humans and human nature.