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I listened to this book straight after the first and with some trepidation in case it was not as good but I needn't have worried. Delderfield had woven such an intricate picture of the valley and it's inhabitants that starting this new book was like slipping back in to a much loved home.
The story focuses slightly less on the Craddock family than it did before and more on their tenants, friends and neighbours than before before, during and after the war years. The Craddock's are the ribbon that flows through it all and keeps everything anchored together.
In a country where the losses of World War One were terribly apparent to all communities they are magnified in the rural villages where the men leaving for war almost brings the agricultural businesses to a standstill and what has been clawed back from derelict farms and moor during the last book is in danger of being lost.
The account of the war years are personal, raw and heartbreaking. The characters by now feel like friends and are so well written that you cannot help but feel a deep fondness and on occasion love for them all.
Each character evolves and changes, Delderfield is brilliant at expressing the passage of time and adjusting to the era without it looking forced or jerky.
Absolutely loved this book and highly recommend.
There is a difference between authors writing about times they have lived through and those treating it as a historical exercise. The pieces on WW1 and the agricultural depression are excellent. The loss of so many lovable characters is trying but an accurate reflection of the blood letting. Would have loved more on the 1920s and feel somewhat cheated. Thankfully there is humour and you are left feeling optimistic for the remaining characters as they prepare for WW2.