Aria Fiction really do get to publish arguably some of the best authors and titles around and from quite a wide diversity of genres.
Historical Fiction, like so many others, is not a genre I can read often and to the exclusion of all others, however every once in a while, a title will catch my eye and I can see the potential for discovering not only a great storyline in its own right, but one which will also afford some excellent social history commentary of the time.
‘A LAST GOODBYE‘
In a remote hill farm in beautiful Scotland, Ellen and her father Duncan are enjoying a peaceful life away from the belching mills and hustle and bustle of the growing towns.
In time they’re joined by rugged farmhand Tom, come to lend some muscle to Ellen’s aging father, who has begun to find sheep farming hard to manage alone.
Almost inevitably romance grows between Ellen and the new arrival but once married however, Ellen discovers that Tom has a brutish side to his character.
As war in Europe spreads, she begins to dream of him leaving for the trenches as a way for her to escape. Even with Tom fighting abroad however, the family cannot hide from the realities of war as a group of POWs are brought to their valley to build a reservoir.
And amongst the men, sworn enemies and shunned by all the locals, Ellen finds a gentler heart that is difficult to resist.
Born and brought up in the south of England, the eldest girl of nine children, Dee moved north to Yorkshire to study medicine. She remained there, working in wellwoman medicine and general practice and bringing up her three daughters.
She retired slightly early at the end of 2003, in order to start writing, and wrote two books in the next three years.
In 2007 she moved further north, to the beautiful Southern Uplands of Scotland. Here she fills her time with her three grandsons, helping in the local museum, the church and the school library, walking, gardening and reading.
She writes historical fiction, poetry and more recently non-fiction.
Occasionally she gets to compare notes with her youngest sister Sarah Flint who writes crime with blood-curdling descriptions which make Dee want to hide behind the settee.
Connect with Dee on Facebook
**MILD SPOILER ALERT**
Dee has prepared this lovely extended premise for you to enjoy – but with such a detailed and beautiful Guest Post, comes the odd snippet of a ‘spoiler’, although definitely nothing which is going to affect my own enjoyment in any way …
In a remote valley in the south of Scotland farming practices have remained much the same for as long as anyone can remember. The hilly terrain and poor soil means that the land is suitable only for sheep – the hardy Scottish Blackface. These litter the base and sides of the valley, clinging to the steep sides where it would not be thought possible for them to keep a hold. Through the base of the valley snakes a river, chattering over the stones when the weather has been dry, gliding smooth and swift after the more usual rain and wind have lashed the hills.
The families in the farms scattered along the sides and base of the valley are used to the harsh conditions – battling the snow in winter months to seek out sheep marooned in snowdrifts, making the long journeys to market to sell or buy livestock or to buy provisions for themselves and their animals, caring for the sick and elderly in their families when medical aid is far away.
But all this is about to change. After months of planning the valley has been chosen as the site for a new reservoir. Extra water is needed to supply the growing towns of Hamilton and Motherwell further north, with their expanding populations and growth of industry. In addition comes the threat of war. Munitions factories will increase further the need for water. Local people have mixed views. Most are against the plans, especially those who who live in the valley base, whose farms will be flooded.
Into this valley strides a Yorkshireman, Thomas Fairclough. He is a shepherd and has arranged to come for experience to the farm of Kenneth Douglas, where he hopes to learn about the local breed of sheep. His ulterior motive is to make contact with his childhood sweetheart, Clara Moxon, who is studying at medical school in Glasgow. Tom is befriended by the resident shepherd Duncan Simpson and his daughter Ellen. He settles into the sheep farming community, anticipating a continuation of the peaceful rural existence to which he was accustomed in Yorkshire. But he is first brought face to face with the plans for the building of the reservoir. At the same time the mutterings of war are continuing to grow and once war is declared, can he ignore the call for able-bodied young men to enlist and fight the enemy? And what will happen when, in 1916, he finds the enemy, not on the other side of the water but on his own doorstep? For when war starts, many of the young men who would have been put to work on the building project, instead volunteer to go off and fight. The only way progress can be made with the much-needed water project is to put to work German prisoners-of-war who would otherwise be a drain on much needed resources.
Tom is a troubled young man. He desires above all for his former relationship to blossom, but he cannot ignore the attractions of Ellen Simpson, an unsophisticated ‘daughter of the soil’. For a time he works on the farm, dealing ably with the sheep and trying not to become too involved in the lives of the shepherd and his daughter. But this is difficult, living as they do, side by side and with Ellen anxious to help in any way possible . Eventually, unable to control either of the two women with whom he is involved, he can see only one way open to him. But will this way lead to fulfilment or will one after another bad decision ultimately end in disaster?