Author: Marie-Elsa Bragg

See against the sky, the rugged tops of the highest Lakeland peaks, hear the continuous sound of water trickling in the becks and the plaintiff bleat of sheep on the fell sides, smell the sweet perfume of the grassy slopes after rain and walk along a lake shore and know the gentle lapping of the water on a calm day.  

Each of these seem reflected in this story of three generations of a farming family in the high fells - where stray sheep are often found again  ‘towards Mellbreak’ -  inexorably bound as much to their environment as to religious traditions and connections to the missionaries to China in a previous generation. Modernity too, has its place, ensuring that the school bus is caught every morning, and the regular visits to the care home where mother’s dementia increases, are maintained.   

But the real, unavoidable, tragedy is rooted in the farm itself.  Lovers of Cumbria will enjoy this brief, charmingly underwritten narrative, with descriptions that often take poetic dimensions.   

Reviewed by: David Huxley  

Publisher:  Chatto and Windus. London  2017.   £12. 99.