Dee Yates comes to the blog today with a story laden with history and change, and utterly gripping in
A lovely story of finding a path and history long secreted away as both your adult life and the history of your coming to be comes into the light.. Using several points of view, all but a handful in the distant or near past, the story unfolds to mix history of people and events, spanning years from the early 1900’s through the first decade of the millennium. We hear of Tam’s early childhood and the struggles after his younger sister’s death and his determination to keep his mother safe and happy until her death several years later. His being the ‘second son’, and never quite as bold, popular, handsome or brash as his older brother, and his steadiness, work ethic and reliability. We meet Jeannie, at 17 she is a free-spirit and chafes against the constraints her clergyman father and mother try to place on her. Determined to make her own path she has moved to Glasgow with her Aunt and Uncle and is working as a librarian’s assistant just as Hitler is coming to power and her parents’ ultimatum to move ‘back home’ isn’t one she is willing to consider. Remembering her Aunt’s mentioning the Woman’s Land Army, she joins up and is soon sent to a farm in a small village in the uplands of Southern Scotland.
Jeannie finds that while the work is hard and never-ending, the family she’s assigned to are welcoming and a chance encounter in the market brings her face to face with Tam, an instant ‘love connection’ is made. Soon Tam and Jeannie are ‘walking out’ when time and work allows, although her flightiness and persistent pressure from both Neil (son of the farmer she works for) and Tam’s older brother have ignited all of Tam’s insecurities. He’s not a big talker, more afraid of saying the ‘wrong thing’, and this will cause the two of them no end of heartbreak. Jeannie has been in the uplands less than a year, is married to Tam and is pregnant with their first child when news comes from her Aunt of her Uncle’s failing health and his wish to see her one last time. Close to her delivery date, the two argue and Jeanie heads off to Glasgow to visit her relations – not telling Tam. With her uncle’s heart failing and the war increasingly coming to affect life in Glasgow, bombs are dropping and the house takes a direct hit. In a panic after learning of the bombing, Tam heads off to find Jeannie, only to be informed that she is dead.
Years later, Liz is working to rebuild her life after divorce, her mother’s death and a relationship that wasn’t meant to be. Finding this run-down cottage that held, of all things, a picture of a woman who looked like her mother, she decided to buy it and start her new life. A bit of coincidence, a long-held letter from her mother and a few enquiries bring the truth to Liz, and to discover long-held secrets about her mother’s past. Lovely and engaging, we see the struggle of farm life in remote villages between the wars, feel for the people and characters that survived and thrived, and more than a few who didn’t make it to see Hitler’s defeat, understand the naivete that altered Jeannie’s (and ultimately Liz and Tam’s life) for years, and learn that secrets are always best uncovered so that choices for the future can be made with full understanding and hope. Beautifully drawn characters who find a way into your heart, with the details of life past (and still present on farms), the struggles of people everywhere and in every time, and the lovely twists that make this a reaffirming story of hope, this was a winner and a favorite.
Title: God's Acre
Author: Dee Yates
Genre: British, Coming of Age, Family Saga, Historic Woman's Fiction, Setting: Scotland, World War II
Published by: Aria
Published on: 2 April, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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A heartbreaking WW2 saga, perfect for all fans of Sheila Jeffries and Katie Flynn.
As the drums of war begin to beat louder on the continent, and life becomes more dangerous in cities, seventeen year-old Jeannie McIver leaves the comfort of her aunt's house in Glasgow, to head to the wilds of the Scottish Uplands to start life as a Land Girl.
Jeannie soon falls in love with life on the busy Scottish hill farm, despite all of its hardships and challenges. She feels welcomed by the Cunningham family who value and cherish her far more than her own rather remote and cold parents, and the work is rewarding. She even finds her interest piqued by the brooding, attractive Tam, the son of the neighbouring farmer, and a sweet romance between them slowly blossoms.
But even in the barren hills, they can't avoid the hell of war, and as local men start disappearing off to fight at the Front, Jeannie's idyllic life starts to crumble. Those left behind try desperately to keep the home fires burning, but then Jeannie makes one devastating decision which changes the course of her and Tam's lives forever.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.