"Set in the aftermath of WW2, this is a captivating novel about love, war, hope, compassion and the power of human resilience; it’s a beauty."
In 1946, back from the ravages of the war, men and women had become strangers to each other. Britain is a country in silence; some secrets are too terrible to share.
This is a stunning debut, historical fiction at its best. What people witnessed, what people sanctioned, what you are still afraid of. It’s all left unsaid.
We meet Alice Rayne as she throws caution to the wind and runs naked into the North Sea off the Suffolk Coast. It’s the first Spring in peacetime for seven years. She lives in Oakbourne Hall, the ‘Big House’ to the locals, now handed back to them after being requisitioned for the war effort. And we meet Sir Stephen, the man Alice no longer recognises. Full of bitterness and despair, his sweet gentle soul snatched away.
In spite of the decaying house, the lost limbs, the battered relationships all gutted by the trauma of war, we feel hope, tiny green shoots of hope, just like the snowdrops in Alice’s walled garden.
Lonely, afraid and increasingly detached from the man her husband has become, Alice tries to rebuild her marriage and the crumbling remains of her home. She starts with her beloved walled garden, and in spite of the immensity of the task, she forges ahead with wonderful and yet unthinkable results. An ode to nature, to the sweetness of Spring and fecundity of the outdoors, it’s a love letter to our beloved English landscapes. And I adored it.