Cold Sunflowers is delightful and enthralling. I didn't know what to expect from this novel as I usually read crime - I fancied a change and was pleasantly surprised. There's timeless innocence, romance and a step back in time to a tear-jerking era. Conveyed within the story is the underlying message of love and how it manifests in so many forms. Mark Sippings has twisted a wonderful tale of intrigue in his debut novel that places him in my top ten reads of 2018.
This quality of writing in this book stands out above the mundane. The author's clarity of characterisation allows the reader to know the individuals and develop empathy and understanding in a way rarely met outside of the giants of literature such as Tolstoy. Ray, a gauche 18 year old, is so lacking in confidence he can't take the authority to ring the bell to stop a bus. He is caught in a no man's land between leaving school and making life decisions. He is like his sunflowers trying to grow in shade. He is rescued by an unlikely friendship offered by a lonely widower to rehabilitate himself and grow. In delicately drawn parallel his older friend recounts his own experience of shaking with fear in a shell hole in the wastelands of the first world war battlefield who himself is rescued by an older soldier who befriends him and supports him through the war. This is one book that will survive to be read again and again, it examines human experience at more than surface level, and in that new insight can be garnered with every reading. Brilliant!
This book is such a beautiful story on many levels. I laughed and cried and found it difficult to put down. I love the way history is interwoven throughout the book, characters, events are given such vivid description the almost leap of the page. A story of Cold Sunflowers finding their sunshine in love and friendship. Can't wait for the next book.
This is not my normal "lightweight" reading matter - not that this is heavy going in any way. It is a real story of love and loss and learning. Nice that the young and old can get along and learn from each other. I found it hard to put down. The saga goes between 1917 and 1972 and has lots of lovely connections and surprises. I genuinely was moved by this book and will look out for more from this author. For a first book, it is very sensitively written and he has judged it perfectly.
I needed an uplifting book, but one that didn't spare the horror of war, and what so many soldiers fought so we could have another chance to live in peace. It was one of the quickest books to finish, as sometimes I can't help but fall asleep! This time I was reading as much as I could before the Sandman took hold.
Treat yourself, get a copy, and even better, order a copy or two for family and/or friends!