Sarah Harrison - The Flowers of the Field
I've decided to revisit some novels that I haven't read for many years, and this is the first I've chosen from my bookshelf. Published in 1980, I bought it a year or so later. The heroine is Thea Tennant, born in 1892 into the family of a successful industrialist and his genteel wife. Thea, full of restless energy and intelligent curiosity, wants to experience life to the full, just like her father. Thea has an elder brother Aubrey, and a younger sister Dulcie, who's petite, pretty and feminine. Their father's sister and her son Maurice also come to live with the family. The novel follows the family's life in the early twentieth century, culminating with the outbreak of World War 1, when all the young people follow different paths. Written with sumptuous description, bringing to life their experiences in every detail, this is not a novel for the faint-hearted. The wartime scenes contain graphic detail which displays the underlying beliefs and reactions of the protagonists as they come to grips with the tragedy and challenges of the age into which they are born. Love, betrayal, courage, are all there. It's a giant of a book, but well worth reading. (There's also a sequel.)
Kate Ryder - Summer in a Cornish Cove
Cara is a talented artist, living with the grief of losing her young husband Christo and coping with bring up her two children alone. She lives in an idyllic Cornish cove, full of memories of their happy life together, and runs an art gallery with the help of her mother. Into this existence comes Oliver, a brilliant actor who struggles with his demons. His wife Deanna copes expertly with their family of four children while he follows his art and seeks to find peace. Oliver's world clashes with Cara's, and the consequences of an unwise decision he made threatens both of their families. The author deals sensitively with the problems of mental illness, while writing a book about lifelong love, infatuation, values, and responsibilities. All in an atmospheric Cornish setting.