Wednesday 27 March 2013

Wish You Were Here

Finished March 26
Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift, read by John Lee

This is a nice slow novel, with lots of character development and description. Jack Luxton grew up in a farming family in Devon. His one escape was a vacation two summers in a row at a caravan park that his mother took him and his younger brother to. The Luxton's had owned Jeb Farm for generations, and ran it as a dairy farm.
In the present Jack and his wife Ellie run a caravan park on the Isle of Wight, and Jack has just received word from the military that his younger brother Tom, who he hasn't seen or heard from in years, has been killed in Iraq.
As Jack reacts to this news, goes to the repatriation and then the funeral back in Devon and returns home to Ellie, you see Jack and Ellie struggle with the past that has brought them to where they are now, and gradually learn what that past consists of. You see the tragedies that befell them, the leavetakings, the impetus for the decision to leave Devon, the intractability of Jack on certain issues and the leader Ellie on most things. This novel is about how people survive, about the toil that takes on them and the relationships they have with others. It is about change in England as people leave the farms and the farms become "country homes" for those from the city. About the life changes that this brings.
The language of the novel takes you on, slowly, sometimes almost excruciatingly slowly, but it just keeps carrying you forward, uncovering the past as it goes.
A wonderful read.

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