June's Room

The Lives She Left Behind

The Lives She Left Behind - James Long I was lucky enough to get an early look at this sequel to 'Ferney' . I had mixed feelings about that earlier book but actually felt that this was better..
In‘Ferney’, we met two lovers with a very complicated history. They met when Ferney, an old man, watched as a young couple , Mike and Gally Martin, looked around a dilapidated cottage in the west country village of Penselwood. At least ,that’s how it appeared at first..
In the course of the story we learned that this was by no means Ferney and Galley’s first meeting ,..and that their shared past was about to intrude on the present in a way that would ultimately affect them all..

As we begin ‘The Lives She Left Behind’. a number of years have passed. Mike Martin is helping out on an archaeological dig not far from Penselwood where he still lives in the cottage that he found all those years ago. Amongst the helpers are three teenage girls. Lucy is only interested in the male student archaeologists, Ali has been going on digs with her mother since she was old enough to hold a trowel, and Jo is along to occupy herself while her mother is off somewhere furthering her career. Of the three, it is Jo who finds herself drawn in to the history of the place..feeling the strangest connection ,as if she has been there before.

Suddenly out of the sky from the top of a tower falls Luke, a teenage boy,a pupil from Mike Martin’s school He catches sight of Jo..and somewhere in the recesses of his brain, a connection is made too. He can’t explain it any more than Jo can..

This fateful meeting is to unlock a secret that only Mike knows.. It threatens to hurt him all over again and change the lives of two young people in ways their families cannot imagine...

The history elements of this book are well researched and are engaging, even if you don’t know anything about the English West Country or the Medieval period. The human side of historical events, battles and the like comes through very well, and the differing experiences through hundreds of years give a real sense of how human lives do not ,in essence, change so very much. For example, the loss of a child in the distant past would have been felt none the less keenly simply because it was more common at the time.

There is a love affair at the heart of this book, but for me, it is the effect it has on all around that is the real story. And it poses the question ‘should love always conquer all, even at the expense of others?’

Suspend your disbelief, sit back, relax.. and enjoy.....