If you have read other novels by Linda Gillard you know that she is an advocate for the understanding of the kinds of mental illnesses that are not severe enough to prevent a person from living in society, but perhaps for that very reason, add additional stress onto anyone thus afflicted. In this book, which is also and I would say primarily about enduring love, the author tackles the important issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and she does a wonderful job.
The main protagonists in this book, Fay and Magnus, have been divorced for five years. Previously, Fay played the role of a faithful army wife, while Magnus was periodically deployed as part of an “Explosive Ordnance Disposal” or EOD team. But Magnus came back from the Falklands War with PTSD, and thereafter suffered from frequent nightmares and even violent episodes during which he thought he was back in the war zone.
Although Fay loved Magnus, she left him when his illness began to make her crazy as well. She started a new life on her own, finding success with the therapeutic craft of textile art. Magnus engaged in his own therapeutic work, restoring the crumbling Tullibardine Tower out in the countryside of Perthshire.
After the divorce, Fay and Magnus only interacted intermittently, and eventually a young woman, Nina, moved in with Magnus in the Tower. But when Emily, the grown daughter of Magnus and Fay, announces her engagement to a young man about whom Fay has some questions, Fay feels she has to tell Magnus, and all the relationships come to a crisis point.
Discussion: The characters in this book aren’t too different from those in most of the author’s other books, in that the female main protagonist is a bit crabby, and the male is tall, dark, handsome, and quite Scottish. Furthermore, both the male and female protagonists, as in the other books, struggle with issues of creativity and sanity.
This is not to say the writing is formulaic, however. There are many differences in each of the books, the largest of which is the disability affecting one of the main characters, a disability which in turn drives the plot. In this book, that disability is PTSD. I especially appreciated how the author shows what the disease would look like after 25 or 30 years, rather than only portraying the situation immediately after a soldier returns. And though it’s central, it’s also not central, in that it’s just something that affects the relationship of the main characters, rather than An Issue about which the author wants to browbeat us.
The characters are all endearing, flaws and all, and moreover, one can’t help falling for Magnus, with his appealing mix of reputed good looks, sexual prowess, vulnerability and heroism.
Rating: I won’t presume to rate a book by an author with whom I have a relationship. But I will tell you that this author is funny, smart, sensitive, and has a great feel for romance, and it all comes out in her work.
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, by 2013