When I got this book out of the library, did not realise it was the third in a trilogy, however, I am not sure if previous knowledge would have made any difference. I have read previous novels by Melvyn Bragg and have enjoyed them, particularly descriptions of The Lake District, and Cumbria in general. I found the story rather hard to get enthused about. There did not seem much depths to the characters, and at the end there seemed too many unanswered questions. The story, in my opinion, did not seem to be going anywhere. I continued to read and complete the book because I thought there would be revelations, and that certain aspects of the novel would become obvious to me, but I am afraid that did not happen.3 stars because Melvyn Bragg writes well and with a good and clear use of language, but it was not really a book for me.
All I've read of Melvyn Bragg I can't put down. Aspects of this were disappointing. This is still a 3* because I had to finish the trilogy and I believe he's a serious writer and has a lot more to say! Having grown up in the sixties on a farm in Northumberland I love the way he makes his people live and have their being through and by their surroundings. Which I think is why I'm so disappointed by his character Douglas, (as well as the portraits of urbanites Mike and Mary and Hilda - all banal). Does city life have to make roots and heritage, morals, dialect unimportant, and an embarrassement even. Was it too obvious to catapult Douglas into the racy end of media, into a life of shallowness, marital unfaithfulness, and drinking as a kind of contrast to his parents - who were serfs to an older order. Lester crosses all boundaries too but is somehow more appealing, more real. Funny how there's a theme of redemption weaving through it all. I found it moving to read how Betty and Joseph found their peace at last, and the grace to cope with the social changes thrust upon them by their offspring.