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Throughout the story we are introduced and return to a variety of characters ranging from the ageing but dedicated village vicar who refuses to give up riding his bicycle, a District Nurse who has helped bring most the local youth into the world including Henry, and who provides some insight into why Henry is the way he is, and an opinionated Headteacher stuck in his ways to name but a few. Others include Henry's parents and other family members followed by an assortment of friends and neighbours; often when an author introduces a large number of characters it can become confusing, with the peripheral characters coming across as a bit one-dimensional, but the author has skilfully breathed life and substance into every last one, each by way of their own story and circumstances playing their part in the bigger picture and driving the story forward, and although I was completely hooked on the unfolding drama of the search for Henry, part of what really brought this story to life were these other character's backdrop stories, many of which could feasibly warrent a book or short story in their own right.
Elements of the characters, the vivid depictions of rural everyday life, and the time period put me in mind of Laurie Lee's 'Cider with Rosie.' Sadly books such as this don't appear as often as they once did, possibly because of the passage of time and the inevitably diminishing pool of writers with sufficient personal experience to draw on.
An unexpected literary gem and as fine and enjoyable a book as I've read all year.
*Bought via amazon.co.uk hence not appearing here as a verified review.
Each chapter is created using the point of view of an individual character, and their ongoing part in the unfolding story. Not only is this a superb vehicle for perspective, but it helps adjust pace.
If I had one concern, it would not be the story, but the extensive blurb. I would respectfully suggest that it could be reduced to two or three short statements and perhaps two open questions.
I would normally be critical about the lack of use of contractions, or the overuse of local dialect in dialogue, but again the author’s skill came to the fore. In the region of England in the post-war era, it would not only be acceptable, but expected to hear speech as used in this story.
When considering the countryside community, the era, and the general mindset of the people, young Henry’s plight is touching, and realistic. An absorbing and entertaining tale.
Terrified of causing his father's death and with an overwhelming need to protect his best friend, Henry goes on the run, hiding in the countryside around his farm.
A lovely, poignant and well written story of love, loss, isolation and misunderstanding. Parker gives each family member a voice, expressing their individual fears and hopes and pulls the reader along in the haphazhard search for a little boy who doesn't want to be found.
The author has such a lovely writing style, so detailed and descriptive and I loved the idea of giving the characters their own chapters, it kept the tension moving forward and let you become a part of their lives.
Such a beautifully sad story and one I heartily recommend. The author manages to put you inside the mind of a terrified boy, and you feel every emotion with him.