Thursday, 7 August 2014

From a Distance by Rafaella Baker

The understated cover of From a Distance hides a novel loaded with colour and textures and tastes. It concerns three main characters beginning with Michael, just off the boat that brought him back to Blighty after his grim experiences in World War Two. Reluctant to return to Norfolk and his fiancé, he winds up in Penzance where he meets Felicity and decides to stay on for a bit.

Felicity designs colourful fabrics, and Cornwall is full of sunshine while the sea glistens. Suddenly the narrative shifts to present-day Norfolk, where the reader is regaled with the flavours of Luisa’s ice cream. She has a busy life with her business, husband and family, but finds time for a new friendship with Kit, a stranger from Cornwall. Kit owns a family textile business, and for reasons he can barely guess at, has inherited a lighthouse in Norfolk.

The reader manages to put two and two together long before any of the characters. Slowly the connections between the two coastal towns and the past and the present will emerge and only then do we discover the effects on the characters. This is a novel that dips into the murky water that is the long-reaching effects of the past on subsequent generations, and there is a nod to the damage done by war to ordinary people.

But mostly, what you get is a shimmering, summery sort of novel, about the good things in life: friends and family, love and art, and of course, ice cream.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: From a Distance

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