This is the story of a man tormented by guilt and regret. He served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and something happened that profoundly disturbed him. He became an alcoholic, his marriage failed and he was estranged from his daughter and thus missed out on her growing up.
The tale opens as he is trying to rebuild his relationship with his adult daughter via confessional letter. At the same time, a summons (of sorts) arrives inviting him to attend an inquiry relating to the event in Ireland. A time, perhaps, for facing up the past and maybe some kind of redemption.
Miller is an exquisite writer who has the command of language and he has the ability to confront the depths of humanity. There are parts that are routinely mundane, intricate, reflective and touching. There is a stark contrast to the life in Ireland, the rituals of being a soldier, and his later job at a garden centre. I particularly enjoyed the parts where he is in the orchard, often during his alcoholic episodes, but there is something of an almost romantic and comforting tranquillity encased in it.
Evocative and brilliant.
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Published by Sceptre (Hodder and Stoughton) on 3 March 2022 (ebook edition. Paperback 19 January 2023).
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.