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Friday, 19 December 2014

Love and Fallout by Kathryn Simmonds

Love and Fallout

This book has a great premise. We first meet Tessa in the present. She's struggling with her life on a number of fronts. Things aren't going well in her marriage, her relationship with her daughter is distant and she's not sure that she can keep the charity she works for afloat.

A combination of events, starting with a chance meeting in a swimming pool, start Tessa off on a trip down memory lane to  a very different time in her life. Because, when Tessa was a young woman she lived as part of a very different family - a group of women at one of the camps at Greenham Common.

The story alternates between the two times and we follow Tessa in the present as she tries to save her marriage and her job, and in the past as she tries to save the world.

I didn't know a huge amount about Greenham Common when I started to read this book, but I found the story very vivid and informative. Kathryn Simmonds has obviously done her research, but it is written with a gentle touch and never feels like the historical facts are being forced into the story in any way.

The story is beautifully written in both strands with believable characters and events. The fact that the reader can see the young Tessa reflected in the older one adds to the richness of the story.

Eventually the two strands collide when present day Tessa is contacted by a face from the past. Angela was the person at the camp who she got on with the least well, so does she really want to meet up with her again? In the end, Angela's reappearance in her life affects Tessa in more ways than she could possibly have expected.

I really enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys women's fiction with an additional dimension to it. So skilful is the recreation of the Greenham Common experience that towards the end of the book I found myself thinking that next time I saw footage of Greenham Common on the television I'd have to look out and see if I could spot Tessa, or Angela, or Jean or one of the other residents of Amber gate.

I think this book will stay with me, not least because the final paragraph is so poignant it made me catch my breath and hold back tears.

Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

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