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The Long Shadow Kindle Edition
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Some of that almost soporific lulling also comes from the recapture of an age of innocence. The nurse Dorothy is young, and although she has decided opinions on most things, from pastries to people, she is conveyed as essentially uncritical, swept along equally by her compelling attraction to a Rhett Butler Greek of glittering dark eyes, as much as to her devotion to her role as nursing aide to the restrained and devoted doctor, Ethan Willoughby. In that sense it has the ingredients of conflicted romance, a very English Home Counties romance where the longing for wild exuberance is tempered by restraint, though not entirely!
There are well drawn characters, the polished Greek mother in her well ordered home of servants, ice cold water wells for cooling wine, of shutters and aromatic gardens; and her counterpart the present day English grandmother in a crumbling gracious Edwardian home, Downlands. The encounters with the Greek peasants, shepherds, runners, dancers and festivals falls like bright light on the impressionable Dorothy, avid for adventure, making the most of her war's interludes (and living with that living for ever after). Through her the reader is given the incandescence of a fresh light at the most dark period of European affairs. The details of Greek habits, food and peppered language make of this an interesting and unfamiliar meal.
The second half of the book covers the consequences of this clandestinely read diary on Andrew and on other characters we have already met in its pages. There is an underpinning philosophy akin to Julian of Norwich's 'All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well' although not necessarily in ways one might expect. Instead of a winding down, the book winds up, rather more satisfyingly, and, on reflection, entirely believable although un-anticipated.
Nothing is more intriguing than a hidden diary, and when Andrew finds his mother's and begins to read it, a dramatic picture of her life in Salonka during the first world war enfolds. Dorothy's love story is touching and beautifully told, yet this is far more than a love story. The sights, smells, triumphs and tragediesa of World War One are described so vividly and knowledgably we feel we are experiencing them first hand.
I've now enjoyed several books from the pen of this author, but this is her best yet.
It's a novel to treasure.
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