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James Long is the author of both historical fiction and thrillers. A former BBC correspondent, he lives in Devon with his wife and three children.
The nature of the self, the ownership of history, the endurance of loveÄthese are some of the themes touched upon in Long's engrossing if somewhat disturbing tale of lovers separated by history. Mike Martin, a lecturer in history in London, and his young wife, Gabriela (Gally), are searching for the English country cottage that Mike hopes will assuage both his wife's sorrow from her miscarriage and the midnight terrors she suffers, nightmares apparently brought on by witnessing her father's death when she was a child. The intuitive and sometimes impulsive Gally is unaccountably attracted to a stone house in complete disrepair, and her rational and deductive husband buys it for her, despite his reservations. Mike and Gally move into an old trailer and begin renovating the cottage, and they conceive a child the first night they spend on their property. The cottage is in Penselwood, a village at a crossroads in British history, and Mike's ideas about historical facts are challenged immediately when he and his wife meet Ferney Miller, an 83-year-old man who insists that the people of Penselwood retain "folk memories" that are truer than written documentation. When Mike decides to write a book about the changes wrought by innovations in farm implements, Ferney persuasively argues that the real innovation was the domestication of the horse, but he can't offer Mike any proof to confirm the notion. As it turns out, Ferney and Gally have other reasons to believe they understand history better than Mike, and despite the vast differences in Gally's and Ferney's ages, their deepening friendship threatens the Martins' marriage. Just how Ferney and Gally are related becomes clear midway through the book, but the puzzle of Gally's recurring nightmares and the mysteries of Ferney's lifeÄthe unexplained disappearance of his wife 57 years earlier and the motive behind the murder of a blacksmithÄare not revealed until the final surprising pages. The highlights of the novel are Long's forays into history, as he makes imaginative use of time travel to bring his characters to life in different eras of British history. While the ending is somewhat disquieting, and Long's prose is merely workaday, the unfolding mystery and the clever handling of the complex plot make for a provocative tale. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
'A story of love and self discovery that resonates across the ages' Nicholas Evans'The book grips . . . It belongs to the unputdownable, so goodbye sleep. I love it . . . the whole story sang' Mary Wesley'A lovely puzzle . . . an enthralling, ambitious novel with distinct echoes of Hardy' Mail on Sunday'If a book ever deserved a second chance, it's this; a historical novel, a love story and a tale of time slippage, just the tale you need when you want to escape into a book and forget the world for 480 pages. I first read this many years ago and it was wonderful to get the chance to go back to it. As fresh and intriguing as ever, the love story and the historical detail are all done with a master's touch. There's many a current bestseller in this vein that can't hold a candle to Long's involving story' Sue Baker, Publishing News'A spellbinding love story that spans the centuries' Woman & Home