When I see the name Alan Titchmarsh, I automatically think of tv gardening programmes and a slightly corny character, the "housewives' favourite". Little did I know that he storytelling talents, had hidden storytelling talents, under the compost heap perhaps?
The Haunting is Alan's eighth novel, a dual time-frame story - one of my favourite genres, when done well... In 2010, forty-something History teacher, Harry Flint is recovering from the demise of a short-lived marriage and wondering what life has in store for him. He feels a strong connection with the past with a keen interest in researching his family tree. What he doesn't know is that events in 1816, concering his ancestor, Anne Flint, are about to have a major impact on his present situation.
"He might keep droning on about the past informing the present, but did he really believe that after all these years of repeating like some religious litany? Well, yes. He did. Let go of that and where are you? The whole world would crumble."
The two storylines are expertly woven together and it all makes for a very enjoyable, satisfying read. Admittedly, the characters aren't overly complex and Harry veers into Mr Chips territory every now and then but you become so immersed in both stories that it really doesn't matter - sometimes simplicity does the trick!
The natural world really comes to life in the author's descriptions, not surprising I guess for an expert on horticulture but he has a special touch when it comes to describing the sights and sounds of nature.
Overall, a light engaging read which has the added bonus of being suitable for overly sensitive readers - any extreme passion is left to the reader's imagination...the answer to my gifts for elderly relatives dilemna.