A story about a writer seeking inspiration, set in a remote village on the coast, instantly appealed to me. Knowing it was written by Allie Cresswell, an author I greatly admire, I was certain it would be good. I was not disappointed. In fact, the story was so absorbing, I had trouble letting go of it to attend to ‚real life‘ duties.
Once again, the author has managed to charm me with her varied cast of characters, none of whom seem fictional. Protagonist Dee is utterly human, jumping to conclusions, fighting her various battles, succumbing to weaknesses and sometimes being downright stupid, while at other times being absolutely brilliant and heartwarmingly caring. I could feel her, especially when she was in the grip of her writing spells, superimposing her story onto the world around her. It is a worrisome state of mind I have only recently come out of. To add to the curiosity of the situation, the character in the story I have written was also named Dee. But that is beside the point here. More about the characters.
There is the Forrester family, feuding brothers, dark secrets and personal tragedy. This is where the story cleverly splits into a dual timeline and I found myself in a book within a book. Or in the past? It is open to speculation whether the trysting tree story is the one that protagonist Dee writes or if it is the history of the village she uncovers bit by bit. The present day mystery surrounding her taciturn neighbour and the strange noises she hears from next door becomes more and more entangled with the secrets of the past and I must admit that I stand in awe of the author who leads the reader at a comfortable pace through this labyrinth without ever losing or boring them.
Those looking for fast paced action should avoid this book, though. The story unfolds at a walking pace, because the myriad paths through the moors and marshes, over the dunes and along the beach are unsuited for haste. Instead, the many differents sights and moods of the landscape are beautifully described and support the rich atmosphere of the novel. Those willing to walk along with Dee and her dog Bob are rewarded with many surprises, twists and turns, revelations and romance and in the end will feel as if they had lived at Roadend themselves for a few months. I was unwilling to leave, reading late into the night.
This is a book I will not easily forget and one that I’m sure I will return to eventually, like visiting old friends.