Sandlands by Rosy Thornton – Book Review
Sandlands by Rosy Thornton – Book Reviewed by guest reviewer, Author Terry Tyler
Publisher – Sandstone Press Ltd
Pages – 320
Release Date – 21st July 2016
ISBN-13 – 978-1910985045
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
From the white doe appearing through the dark wood to the blue-winged butterflies rising in a cloud as a poignant symbol of happier times, the creatures of the Suffolk landscape move through Rosy Thornton’s delicate and magical collection of stories.
The enigmatic Mr Napish is feeding a fox rescued from the floods; an owl has been guarding a cache of long-lost letters; a nightingale s song echoes the sound of a loved voice; in a Martello tower on a deserted shore Dr Whybrow listens to ghostly whispers. Through the landscape and its creatures, the past is linked to the present, and generations of lives are intertwined.
This book of short stories based on the history and folklore in and around the village of Blaxhall on the Suffolk Coast was an absolute treat to read. I lived in coastal Norfolk for some years and adore that part of the country, and had vague recollections of reading other glowing reviews of this book, hence my choice.
Ms Thornton’s writing is beautiful. Evocative, intelligent, mournful, intricately researched and humorous at times, the sort of prose that doesn’t need events or dialogue, and that’s coming from someone who prefers books with lots of both. Never mind complaints about too much descriptive detail in books; Mad Maudlin, for instance, in which the narrator has a strange experience with some old film of a pub in which he is staying, is made up of little but descriptive detail, and I loved every word.
There’s a very sad tale called The Watcher of Souls, about a long forgotten and tragic love affair (I want to know more about Annie!), but I think my favourites are High House, narrated by a local cleaner, about a wise man who lives above the floodlines…. and I loved Dr Whybrow in Whispers, the solitary academic who finds the inspiration he has been searching for in an old tower, built for defence during the Napoleonic Wars. And lastly, the beautiful Mackerel, about an old lady who has hardly moved from Blaxhall from all of her eighty-nine years. This one actually made me weep. I mean, properly cry, not just get a bit damp around the eyes.
I’m sending this book to my eighty-seven year old father who grew up in Suffolk in the 1930s; I am sure he will love it. There’s something wonderfully timeless about Norfolk and Suffolk, and this book made me want to go back and wander down those lonely country lanes I remember from my own childhood that, somehow, the 21st Century has not yet touched.
It’s only £1. Possibly the best one you’ll spend for a long time. Thank you Rosy Thornton for writing it, and Stacey from Whispering Stories for asking me if I’d like to do a guest review; without this offer, I might not have discovered this lovely book.
Book reviewed by author Terry Tyler
Cambridgeshire is my main home now. In my daily existence I am a lecturer, Tutor and Fellow in Law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where I try to be serious now and again. I teach and write on an eclectic mix of topics, including landlord and tenant law, trusts, homelessness, and women and the law. I am married and we live in a village in the fens with our mad spaniels, Ted and W.G. Snuffy Walden.
Suffolk still very much has its claws in me, however. It has always dragged me back every other Saturday to watch Ipswich Town in their annual, unsuccessful battle to secure promotion. And over recent years I have escaped, whenever I am not at work, to the beautiful village of Blaxhall in the Suffolk sandlings, where I write and go for long walks with the dogs.
Meet Guest Reviewer – Author Terry Tyler
I have thirteen books on Amazon ~ Ten full length novels, two novellas and a short story collection. My latest publication is a psychological mystery/thriller/suspense drama ~ The Devil You Know is about five people who fear that a local serial killer might be a person close to them
I write most contemporary fiction, about the issues that concern so many today; divorce, infidelity, addiction, obsession with celebrity, dysfunctional families, body/image issues, meeting people via social networking sites. Three of my books (Kings and Queens, Last Child and The House of York) are modern day retellings of historical periods in the Tudor and Plantagenet eras.
Favourite writers: Deborah Swift, Carol Hedges, Douglas Kennedy, John Boyne, Gemma Lawrence, William Savage, Deborah Moggach, Mark Barry, Jon Krakauer, Phillipa Gregory, Robert Leigh, John Privelege, Dylan Morgan, Kate Atkinson, Norah Lofts, Dorothy Parker, Bill Bryson, PJ O’Rourke.
I love crime drama/thriller series like “24”, “Breaking Bad”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Game of Thrones” – the books as well as the TV series. I love watching films, and anything to do with history (reading, watching, or walking round places like Lindisfarne Priory going ‘wow’), mountaineering or polar exploration. Netflix addict. Quite like zombies too 🙂