Kirsty Wark – The House by the Loch
This is the second novel written by the Scottish broadcaster. A deep and intricate story about three generations of a family whose home is in Galloway, south-west Scotland. An incident on Loch Doon involving the boy Walter in 1941 holds a grip on him that reverberates down the years. In present day, Walter’s children hold a family gathering at the houses he gifted them on the loch side. Their own children are present – Patrick’s two daughters, Carson and Iona, and Fiona’s son Pete. As the story of Walter’s grandchildren unfolds, there are flashbacks to his own youth as an engineer at the Loch, and his marriage to bright spark Jean from nearby Ayr. Jean’s fragility also has long-reaching effects on the family. Following a sudden tragedy, each member of the family struggles to find a way to go on, and there are many secrets still to be revealed. A good read, though for me it sagged a little in the second half of the book, before picking up pace again towards the end.
Sarah Harrison - A Flower that's Free
This is the sequel to 'The Flowers of the Field', and follows the story of Kate, Thea's adopted daughter. Early in the book we learn who her real mother is, and this creates a thread of tension running through the novel. Always rather a rebel, feeling she doesn't fit in, Kate travels from her Kenyan home to London where she meets Thea's family. She strives to find fulfillment for herself in the world. Then she finds love but there are difficult choices to make as the story moves into World War II. The author doesn't hold back on depicting some of the horrors of the war, in several different countries. Despite it being a very long book it kept my interest up to the end. I read it originally when it was first published in 1985, and it's interesting to see how writing styles have changed over the years. I reckon that the stories of some minor characters would not be included in a more recent novel. But very well written, full of tension, with a great sense of place and immediacy.