Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves - Rachel Malik

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I cannot tell you how much I loved and enjoyed this book.  Rachel Malik's maternal grandmother was the inspiration - a woman who left a husband and three children (one of whom was Malik's mother) and just got on a train and never looked back.  She (Miss Hargreaves) became a Land Girl, working on farms in WW2, and was sent to Starlight Farm, where she met her soulmate, Miss Boston.  They ran the little farm together until they were cheated out of it by a lie from the farmer next door who was on the county committee for categorisation of food production on farms during the war.  They became itinerant farm workers, travelling from one farm to another, working for their keep and a roof over their heads until the late 1950s,  when they settled in a small rented cottage in Cornwall.

As Malik tells you in the Afterward, this is a work of fiction, although the two characters are based on real people and her research traces the lives of the two women.  But fiction or not, this is simply a magical book, even though the women are not really great talkers, so conversation is not the high spot of the book.  The descriptions of life in the countryside, and the walks they take and the adventures they have are just wonderful.  You know that they care for each other deeply, even though they do not speak about "love" or "closeness", they just are.  It is only half way though the book that a real threat arrives to rock the boat, and the book then changes it's tone.  I found myself reading faster because I needed to know how this would end, but also putting the book down because I didn't want it to end.  This is currently only available in hardback or on kindle - Penguin please note that I do hope it comes out in paperback because it needs to be on that front table in Waterstones!  (Although the cover does not really lead you in, so perhaps a change there).

Recommended - it will continue to haunt me long after I pass it on.