Monday, 16 May 2011


Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Published by:  Simon & Schuster  (March 2011)
Pages:  360  (Hardback)
Source:  Received for review from Simon & Schuster
My Rating:  8/10

About the Book:

The sudden death of David Bryant, the charismatic owner of a rambling Derbyshire wildlife park, leaves an indelible mark on three very different people.
David's young widow, Maggie, struggles to preserve the park and to forge friendships untainted by the suspicions of others. His old friend Louisa, a falconer who lives on the grounds, just wants to be left alone with her hawks and the dark secret she has shared with David since their youth. Meanwhile, Christopher, David's eccentric teenage son from an earlier marriage, strives for a life beyond the park and trawls the internet for a woman who shares his family values.
With the arrival of a stranger, and unforeseen disaster amid the worst rains for a hundred years, the loyalties of Maggie, Louisa and Christopher will be stretched to breaking point, and each must face the decisions which will define them...

A wildlife park in the middle of England is the unusual backdrop to this novel which mostly features  three characters all dealing with the aftermath of the owner’s death two years before.

Maggie, the widow of David, is left to cope with the running of the park, while her only ‘friend’ is the hostile Louisa who has been in love with David since they were teenagers, and who is jealous of and resents Maggie.  

Louisa lives in a cottage across the field from 'the big house' where Maggie and Christopher live and constantly spies on her.

Christopher, David's teenage son from his first marriage, lives with Maggie, he is unpredictable, slightly psychotic, has a habit of speaking the truth, is obsessed with Robin Hood and knows that Louisa watches them in their ‘big house’.

As life goes on in the park Maggie and Louisa start to let their barriers down and gradually become close friends, confiding in each other, Louisa helping in the park as well as looking after her beloved hawks and for a while they both start looking forward.....then Adam (a man with an unusual adult occupation!) enters their life and their friendship is tested.

Louisa’s romance with Adam formed quite a large part of the story …...... I really liked Adam but my main doubt was that I just couldn’t see what he saw in the unfriendly, unpopular 47 yr old Louisa who lived for her hawks. It seemed an unlikely friendship to me and I found it difficult to believe.

The character I liked the most was Christopher, though I probably shouldn’t as he was so weird, but he did make me laugh with his honesty.  He once refused to eat meat for a while as he feared retribution from the animals in the park.  Maggie took him to the cinema (from page 231) …..

She watched Christopher bite into a nacho loaded with various mush.  He closed his eyes while he chewed, and sighed with pleasure, as if he’d just taken some life-saving antidote.  Crisp shards fell into his hand, which he had readied below his chin for that purpose.  He pushed the crumbs in, too.  Against all odds, it was fun to watch.  When had Maggie last enjoyed food to such an extent?  She laughed, and Christopher laughed too, unable to contain his pleasure.

I enjoyed the writing, it was easy and simple and flowed quickly.  The idea of having a wildlife park in the background was very original and his observations of the falcons and the hawks was a joy to read.

A special Thank You to Simon & Schuster for sending me this book to review.

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