Raffaella Barker is an established English writer whose latest novel From a Distance tells an engaging, heart-warming story commencing with war weary and battle scarred young soldier Michael finally returning to England from the Far East in the spring of 1946.
Instead of heading north to see his parents and fiancée, he heads south to Cornwall with no set plan other than to find a way disconnect from his six long years of war.
In Cornwall he is made welcome by strangers and quickly fits into an artists’ colony and finds new friends and work which helps to heal the emotional and mental scars inflicted by the war.
Barker’s post war Cornwall is a warm welcoming place full of interesting artistic people where the rigours of rationing and shortages seemingly have little impact on this remote and fertile part of England, all of which contributes to Michael’s recovery and his ultimate acceptance of the need to return to his parents and fiancée.
The author also introduces us to Luisa, her family of teenage children and teacher husband, in a small seaside town in Norfolk in May 2012. Into her life, and that of her extended family, comes Kit, a wealthy bachelor who has just inherited a local redundant lighthouse.
I like this book and particularly admire the clever yet believable way Barker seamlessly brings the several strands of the story together with a surprising yet heart-warming conclusion.
When preparing this review I happily re-read the book, something rare for me, yet doing so reminded me of this author’s ability to create warm and believable characters – it is a book for those who like engaging stories. I look forward to reading some of the author’s earlier books which have just been re-issued.
Terry Purcell is a solicitor and was the founding director of the Law Foundation of NSW. He is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog.