By 'quite simply one of the best writers we have' (Sunday Telegraph), a profoundly moving story spanning three generations.
John visits his ageing mother Mary in her nursing home by the sea, and mourns the slow fading of her mind. Hoping to shore up her memory, he prompts her with songs, photographs and questions about the 1940s, when she was a young woman and he a child in a small Cumbrian town.
But he finds that most of all it is her own mother she longs for - Grace, the mother she barely knew. John sets out to recreate their buried family history, delving into the secrets and silences of Mary's fractured childhood as he imagines the life of her spirited mother.
Reaching from the late 19th century to the present, this becomes a deeply moving, reflective elegy on three generations linked by a chain of love, loss, and courage.
'It's funny and sad and touching. With regular echoes of Thomas Hardy, this quiet, unshowy, book proves that novels can tell truths that are deeper and truer than the mere fact of memoir.' — Alex Preston, Observer
'The pleasures of this elegant novel are many. Bragg's detailed evocation of the Wigton of his youth, the people that lived there, the beauty of the Cumbrian scenery, the lively sense of the region's long and varied history, is delightful. It's a novel that deserves to be read slowly, the details cherished. The Hardy echo sounds throbbingly but Grace is not, like Hardy's Tess, reduced to being a plaything of "the President of the Immortals". It's a novel suffused with the idea and reality of the love between parent and child, beautifully realised without a trace of false sentiment.' — Allan Massie, The Scotsman
The novel's multiple narratives are skilfully teased out from John's attempts to prolong meaningful life for his mother by stimulating her failing memory...For each generation, Bragg suggests, a key component of the quest is coming to terms with the past - a feat that his quietly intense novel pulls off with joy, sorrow and precision. — David Grylls, The Sunday Times
Bragg's high-profile TV presence has tended to distract from his literary achievements, but this understated tale of three Cumbrian generations is one of his most heartfelt works. — Max Davidson, Daily Mail
a novel which beautifully conveys how the past is a continuum that constantly feeds our consciousness of the present, altering its current and direction. It is starkly truthful about the perils of ageing. But it is also a convincing testimony to familial love, and its power to prompt the imagination in the service of a more generous understanding....It is a gem. — Salley Vickers, Independent