I remember a gate in Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire, that opened to nowhere but a sheer drop down a cliff and a path that led the same way. These are the childhood memories I have about the location where this book is set.
The offing is “the distant stretch of sea where sky and water merge” and is used as a symbol for the existential concepts of life and death and relationships. The pastoral story focuses on the meeting of a sixteen year old boy and a much older woman during a summer after the second world war. They are opposites in every way: he is from a mining town, uneducated with a a life already planned for him, while she is rich, educated, cultured and, for want of a better expression, a free spirit. He does some manual work for her on her tranquil but slightly wild land while she provides food and shelter and intellectual stimuli.
Poetry features in this story and throughout the narrative there is a poetic feel, from the descriptions of the landscape to the knowledge of nature. The flora and fauna in the north Yorkshire setting is a vital aspect and Myers shows that he is a great nature lover by his abundance of detail. "I cling to poetry as I cling to life."
This is a lovely read. An old man looks back on his eventful summer when he met the bohemian woman who changed his life forever. There is a fondness and warmth for the few months in which he grew up and realised that the world is much bigger than his pit village. Recommended.
Published by Bloomsbury on 21 August 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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