The title echoes the feelings of anti-hero Jack about key persons in his life. He first wrote "Wish you were here" as a 13-year old on a picture postcard to his lifelong girlfriend Ellie from the neighboring farm, when his beloved mother took him and kid brother Tom (5) on a beach-side holiday. It has a thrilling, scary ending and is full of drama.
In the 1990s, two adjoining, struggling Devon dairy-farms were hit by BSE, years later by foot-and-mouth disease. Twice, herds of perfectly healthy cows were destroyed; compensation was scant and came late. Cancer, suicide and desertion (Tom at age 18) reduce ownership of the farms to Ellie and Jack. They sell, pay off debts and move to the Isle of Wight to run a camp site with 32 caravans. Things go well for a decade. In winter they holiday in the Caribbean.
Then a letter arrives from the DoD: Tom has died at age 31, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. His repatriation to an air force base and funeral and burial in Ellie and Jack's Devon home village cause a rift between them. A rift based on a single remark... This book is to be discovered, so this reader signs off here.
This enthralling novel deals intimately with broad concepts like security, resilience and the essence of love and death. Resilience is the domain of Ellie. Security covers many scenes and aspects in this brilliant novel, ranging from what Tom was doing to the occasional shivers of the wife of the new owner of Jack's former, thoroughly restored and electronically-secured farmhouse. Dealing with death is a private matter: both Ellie and Jack dissemble after Tom's death, and appear to lose it...
Great novel for reading groups.