The Long Walk Home – Will North

long walk

Okay, The Long Walk Home is a book that I thought would be right up my alley. You know – because I am a single woman of a certain age who still kinda hopes that  the possibility of romance still exists out there, although perhaps a little closer than a mountain in Wales.

Handsome Alec Hudson has walked all the way from Heathrow to Dolgellau, which is located in North West Wales. Why didn’t he just rent a car and drive? Well, he’s on a bit of a mission. His ex-wife (and dearest friend) Gwynne has died and her final wish was that her ashes be scattered from the summit of Cadair Idis, a nearby mountain. He arrives at Tan y Gadair, a B & B run by Fiona, a petite, forty-three-year-old who “still had her looks.” Yes, people, we are going there.

Fiona is married, but her husband David lives in a converted hay barn on the property because several years previously  he’d been poisoned by the sheep dip ( a pesticide used to cure scab mite) and then suffered a heart attack. He never really recovered and his environmental sensitivities and mood swings, coupled with his penchant for whiskey make him difficult to live with. Fiona brings his food, but they no longer live as man and wife. And really, although David was a decent a guy back in the day, theirs was not a fairy tale marriage. That’s what makes Alec so immediately appealing: he’s good looking, he knows his way around the kitchen and he’s a great conversationalist. He’s the perfect man.

No surprise here – they fall in love.  It seems like I am mocking them, but I’m not really. They’re decent people. Alec pitches in around the old B & B, which is also a working sheep farm. By day two, he’s helping Owen, the farm’s hired hand, deliver lambs. By day three Fiona is crying in his arms after a particularly nasty visit with her husband. By day four Alec is confessing: “I am afraid I am very much in love with you…and I don’t know what to do about it.”

I can’t quite figure out why I didn’t like this book all that much. There are no bad guys. Everyone is witty and  kind and  good. They all make selfless decisions.  The only asshat in the book is Fiona’s daughter Meaghan’s boyfriend , Gerald, who is summarily turfed by Owen. And, yes, okay, technically Fiona shouldn’t be having sex with another man – but she hasn’t slept with her husband in years. When that big event transpires it was so treacly, my teeth ached.

So, at the end of the day…I didn’t send The Long Walk Home to the Book Graveyard and while that’s not a ringing endorsement by any stretch,  it at least lets you know that I read the whole thing. If you are interested in lambing, climbing, cooking, and listening to a middle aged woman say things like,”Yes, darling man, please,” then by all means, read Will North’s book.

A picture of Cadair Idis.


The World More Full of Weeping – Robert J. Wiersema

worldCanadian writer Robert J. Wiersema packs a punch with his novella, The World More Full of Weeping. On the day before going to spend a week with his mother in the city, eleven-year-old Brian disappears in the woods behind his father’s house. Wiersema manages to capture both the frantic search, and Brian’s journey in the forest in 77 short pages.

Part of the novella’s success can be attributed to Wiersema’s split narrative. Beginning in present day, Brian shares breakfast with his father who explains to him that his mother will be picking him up at four. Brian clearly doesn’t want to go, but lacks the ability, it seems, to articulate his feelings. Instead, he tells his father, Jeff, that “Carly said you wouldn’t understand.”

Carly’s true identity is just one of the mysteries of The World More Full of Weeping. Who is  Carly? At first she just seems like a girl Brian meets in the woods. But after Brian goes missing  and Jeff calls over to his neighbour John’s to see if he’s seen him, the mention of her name causes John to encourage Jeff to call “Chuck Minette at the Search and Recuse…call him right now.”

Many years ago, Jeff also went missing in the woods only to turn up the next day. When men from the community come to help look for Brian, it’s clear everyone thinks his disappearance might be a case of “like father, like son,” with the same happy outcome.

While the search for Brian continues, we see him in the woods with Carly, who is always in the same thin dress despite the uncertain March weather, her cheeks “pink and rosy.” Carly knows secret places in the woods, places Brian has not ever seen.  She asks him if he wants to “see more hidden things” and promises she can show him “a whole hidden world in the forest.”

There are no concrete answers in The World More Full of Weeping. The only certainty is that when given the opportunity Jeff and Brian made different choices. Perhaps some readers will take comfort in Brian’s decision, but for me I can’t quite get the picture of Jeff on his knees, crying for what is lost,  out of my head.

A magical and profoundly moving story.