THE LONG WALK HOME
a novel by Will North
reviewed by Don Meyer
This story takes place in Wales, in April, 1999, and then 6 years later in December, 2005 ... nothing in between. The story is fictional, but the locale is real.
Home for Fiona Edwards, 44, is her husband’s sheep raising farm in northern Wales, in the shadow of a rather large mountain called Cadair Idris, about 2900 feet high. The farm is enough to support the small family -- mother, father, and daugher -- but Fiona has added to the farmhouse, and made it into a bed and breakfast. This has turned out to be a most successful enterprise because Cadair Idris actually is a very popular tourist attraction and almost all visitors come for the spectacular scenery and very pleasant and satisfying walk up the mountain.
North of Cadair Idris lies the town of Dolgellau, a convenient tourist base, that North incorporates into the story.
There are numerous legends about Cadair Idris. Some nearby lakes are supposed to be bottomless, and anyone who sleeps on its slopes will supposedly awaken either a mad man or a poet. This tradition of sleeping on the summit of the Mountain apparently stems from bardic traditions, where bards would sleep on the mountain in hope of inspiration. North also manages to use some of these legends in his tale.
Husband David is ill, and has had to move away from the main house to an isolated building in a remote corner of the farm. Owen, the hired hand, is doing a good job of keeping the farm going because David tires so easily.
Alec Hudson, age 50, is a man on a long walk. He had been asked by his ex-wife to deliver her remains (she had died of cancer) to the top of Cadair Idris, that to be her final resting place. Alec has learned from the tourist bureau of Fiona’s bed and breakfast at the foot of this mountain, and would like to have lodging for a few days. Something clicks between Fiona and Alec, and that sets up a conflict for Fiona, for she is a married woman, loyal to her sick husband. How all this plays out is the meat of the story, and a meaty story it is indeed. I call this a love story; not a romance novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died. Erma Bombeck
You know you're middle-aged or older if your back goes out more often than you do.