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Will Cohu's bittersweet memoir begins with an evocative description of the Yorkshire moors in winter, where a blizzard comes howling down Danby Dale, engulfing his grandparents' home, Bramble Carr, and its environs, in drifts of pure white snow; and it is these childhood winters, the author tells us, that were the beginning of his love affair with the North Yorks Moors. Will Cohu then goes on to tell the reader how his grandfather, George, and his grandmother, Dorothy, drawn to the beauty and bleakness of the moors, move to Bramble Carr, a sandstone late-Victorian house, in the mid 1960s. This remote little house becomes Will's second home during school holidays - a home Will longs for whilst he is away and feeling unhappy at boarding school. The author tells us how he remembers George sitting at the kitchen table, smoking his pipe and doing 'The Times' crossword, whilst Dorothy would be baking bread, sponge cakes and Bakewell tarts, or would perhaps be painting moorland scenes in her preferred medium of oil paint: "At times, the kitchen was a little cultural salon, which is - I think - what Dorothy wanted to create, a small piece of Bohemia in a cold part of Yorkshire." However, as cosy as this scene may appear, the reader soon learns that under this seemingly settled surface lies anger, guilt, jealousy and resentment. And, as we read on, we learn that it is not only Will's grandparents who have their problems, for we also discover that Will's parents are not compatible, and they too have difficulties in their marriage which, of course, impacts on Will and his siblings.

As the author continues the story of his relations, their lives and the lives of some of those around them, we discover family secrets and deceptions, we witness scenes of violence and bullying, and we meet death, depression, drink problems, despair and suicide. In fact in the first few pages of this book, the author tells the reader that during the course of writing the first draft, his mother had a near fatal stroke, his father was diagnosed with cancer, he filed for divorce and both of his beloved dogs died. This book, therefore, could not be described as a light and happy read - but it is no misery memoir either, for the author has not written this memoir in self-pity, but more as a vehicle to examine his family in an attempt to better understand them and, importantly, to better understand himself. So although poignant and, in places, a heart-rending tale, this is not an unremittingly depressing read, and this is due to the author including a cast of interesting and unusual real-life characters and some very atmospheric descriptions of situation and setting - but do be prepared for a very honest account and a bittersweet and sometimes painful reading experience.

4 Stars.
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on 11 June 2012
This is a beautifully written, profoundly affecting book about the author's family and his struggles to come to terms with love and loss. It is also a study of the ties that alternately hamper and free us and of the impact that place can have on our lives. Will Cohu has a lightness of touch that makes the material sing.
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on 20 June 2012
A beautifully written and very moving 'family history', with a sub-text of a love affair with the North Yorkshire dales countryside. As a southerner who is also in love with the same part of this country, and an admirer of good writing, I can only urge you to read this book.
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on 4 September 2016
Well written but slightly mawkish and bleak family biopic. I found this tale of dysfunctional families on the North Yorkshire moors quite uncomfortable reading. Cohu's immediate family and friends may have given the nod to publish this but I wonder how the future generations will feel. The main driver seems to be the author's need for catharsis. Hence it dwells excessively on the negative events. He also delves into other family's issues which seems unfair to have published. Left me feeling slightly sullied and pessimistic. Get uplifted. Read Herriot instead.
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on 6 December 2014
Beautifully written true story, based on the author's own life. A story of tragic love, brilliant but flawed characters set against a stunning snd sometimes challenging Moreland.
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