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Synopsis: Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.
Mud, mice, and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.
Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.

My review: The book felt so much longer than it actually is without ever feeling like a lot of happening. Then you get near the end and realise you are completely wrong. It really does sneak up on you. There are so many layers to it with various points of view as told by the characters stories but also the viewpoints of city life versus country life.

Downsizing after the collapse of their marriage but like many modern day couples unable to afford to actually split up due to housing crisis and rising costs. They have to learn to be together as incomers to the country while dealing with unemployment, money worries, bringing up children, the impact of infidelity and so much more. Quinten refuses to accept his actions and any wrong doing until a tragic loss. Lottie is trying to rebuild her life. Son Xan is trying to find his place in the world learning about how the other half live with his immigrant girlfriend and 12 hour shifts in the pie factory. He has a learning curve that ultimately makes him a better person.

I really wasn’t sure about Sally’s story. All her chapters seem to say the same thing and while her ending played  apart in all the big reveal I think a lot of her story could have been dropped.

There’s a  lot of love for these characters and some of them appear in Craig’s other works. You can really see how much the author cares for them. They’re so loving described and created. It’s a really beautiful piece of work.

Free arc from netgalley

Out now