The story follows the Hayes family. Farmer, Harry Hayes struggles to make a living from his farm while his wife, Isabel, finds comfort with the new farm hand while recovering from a misscarriage. Their three children play on the farm with abandon while their parents are distracted. Their story will end in tragedy
One of the strong points of this book is that France has clearly done her research. Despite the story being set during the 1980′s, many challenges farmers face today and attitudes from society are explored realistically.
The major downside to this book which makes any country dweller groan in dispair is the amount of stereotypes. You have the usual set of characters found in fantasy countryside villages, the Vicar who finds life dull after a stint in an inner city parish, the bitter feuds plauging the older generation of women, a disgruntled farm hand who, of course, is a bit dim. More annoying is this assumption that every jumble sale in villages are to fund the repair of the church roof.
There is a somber feel to this book which results in turning the page being a drag. If you are after a cosy English Countryisde story then try somehting like Mapp & Lucia or for a good balance of drama and spirit, Howards End.