When farmer Dan Maddicott is found shot dead in one of his fields, he leaves behind a young family and a farm deep in debt. Although the coroner records accidental death, village rumours suggest he has taken his own life so that the insurance payout can save his family from ruin. Dan’s wife, Kate, refuses to believe the gossip and is determined to prove to herself, and her children, that his death was an accident. But could it have been murder? Kate discovers a set of old diaries containing secrets that may reveal how Dan really died. Set against the backdrop of the farming crisis of the turn of the 21st century, Caroline Kington’s absorbing family drama also tells the secret history of another resident of the farm, decades before, whose tragic tale will come to have major repercussions in the present day.
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A Long Shadow is a compelling and emotional family drama that I really enjoyed. The story follows Kate as she tries to uncover the mystery of her husband, Dan’s death. Was it suicide as the police think in order to cash in on a recent insurance policy that would help clear his debt or was it murder?
The setting of this book is beautiful and is so vividly described that the reader feels like they are there watching everything that’s going on. The mystery of what happened is very intriguing and I enjoyed watching everything unfold. The story is told from three different timelines all describing events leading up to Dan’s death. Through these the reader gradually starts to piece together an idea of what happened with the author dropping little hints that helps keep the reader firmly on their toes and ensuring that the book is hard to put down.
There are some great characters which are well drawn and developed throughout the book. I really felt for Kate and her family as it must be awful to lose a family member in that way particularly if they are the main bread winner too. The author does a great job of portraying the emotions of the characters which seemed very realistic and therefore makes for quite a heart breaking read at times.
Huge thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random resources for inviting me onto the blog tour and for my copy of this book.
About The Author:
My professional life started when I went to drama school. I became a drama teacher to pay the rent, and in what spare time I had, I worked in Fringe theatre, writing, acting and directing bizarre, off-the-wall plays. I did a post-grad course at Bristol University in Radio, Film and Television and went to work in television where I became a documentary film-maker for BBC regional TV. Ten years later I went freelance and combined TV work with other fringe theatre work, writing and directing.
A Long Shadow was my first-born book and arose out of a documentary feature I made for C4 news about the increasing number of women in farming. It was a period in our recent history when the farming community were reeling under successive blows to their industry from BSE, foot-and-mouth, and unsympathetic government policy.
This became the background for the story, which centres around the violent death of a young farmer. As his widow struggles to come to terms with his death, she decides to take on the farm. At the same time, she promises their young son that she will prove to him that his dad did not commit suicide. Two seemingly impossible tasks. Then a series of near fatal accidents occur and it would appear that her life, too, is threatened.
The origins of the story stretch back to a seemingly totally unconnected event in the Second World War. It is told from viewpoints of the two principal characters and the reader is privy to other stories that go towards the final solution.
The novel is quite complicated, I admit, with many different strands and I could never quite make it work satisfactorily, despite the loyal friends who read it and cheered it on. I was tempted to remove the sub-plot about domestic violence and destitution – again I had made a documentary on a refuge, but I really liked the point it was making – that nothing is what it seems – which added richness, I thought, to the one of the main themes of the whole book.
So I put it on one side and started on the Summerstoke trilogy. Written as a complete antidote to A Long Shadow, they are light-hearted rural comedies, set in a village not unlike one I live near.
During the writing of these, my beloved husband, Miles Kington, died. He was a humorous writer and broadcaster and had been writing a book about his cancer diagnosis when he died. It was incomplete, so I finished it for him and had “How Shall I Tell The Dog”, as it was called, published. I then edited a collection of his Franglais columns, “Le Bumper Book of Franglais” and then a selection of his other writing “The Best of Miles”.
I finished the third book of the Summerstoke Trilogy “Spring Mischief” and fiddled a bit more with A Long Shadow. I still wasn’t happy with it and put it to one side again as I had promised Miles I would get a collection of his letters published. Not an easy task as he was a prolific writer, and there were over 20,000 to choose from. “My Mother, the Bearded Lady” finally comes out this autumn.
I went back to A Long Shadow, re-read it for the ‘nth time and eureka – worked out what I needed to do. So here it is. It’s an unusual book, I think, but life-affirming despite the sense of gloom around it and I really hope people read it and rate it.
And if you have not encountered the Summerstoke books before, I hope you will enjoy them.
The blog tour has now finished but do go and check out these fabulous bloggers reviews!