About the Book
It is 1916. The world has gone to war, and young Leo Sercombe, hauling coal aboard the HMS Queen Mary, is a long way from home. The wild, unchanging West Country roads of his boyhood seem very far away from life aboard a battle cruiser, a universe of well-oiled steel, of smoke and spray and sweat, where death seems never more than a heartbeat away.
Skimming through those West Country roads on her motorcycle, Lottie Prideaux defies the expectations of her class and sex as she covertly studies to be a vet. But the steady rhythms of Lottie’s practice, her comings and goings between her neighbours and their animals, will be blown apart by a violent act of betrayal, and a devastating loss.
In a world torn asunder by war, everything dances in flux: how can the old ways life survive, and how can the future be imagined, in the face of such unimaginable change? How can Leo, lost and wandering in the strange and brave new world, ever hope to find his way home?
Format: Paperback (400 pages) Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: 13th June 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find The Redeemed on Goodreads
Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops
Shortlisted for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2020, The Redeemed is the final book in Tim Pears’s West Country trilogy. The first two books in the trilogy – The Horseman and The Wanderers – made the longlists for The Walter Scott Prize in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The Redeemed continues the stories of Leo Sercombe and Lottie Prideaux from the previous two books; the events in their lives being told in parallel and only converging at the end of the book.
Part one of the book recounts Leo’s experiences serving in the Navy aboard a coal-powered battle cruiser, during which he witnesses the Battle of Jutland and its deadly aftermath. Meanwhile Lottie, much to the dismay of her father’s new wife, has become assistant to the local vet, learning how to treat sick farm and domestic animals. It’s a changing world in which conscription has robbed estates, like those owned by Lottie’s father, of farm workers but there is also the possibility of new opportunities for women. Lottie’s ambition is to study veterinary science but all that is put at risk by a violent act from a quite unexpected quarter.
In the mistaken belief that his future lies elsewhere, part three of the book sees Leo, now a qualified diver, employed in a bold scheme to raise the battleships scuttled by the German navy in Scapa Flow at the end of the war. Leo undertakes this dangerous work to pursue his dream of earning enough money to purchase a piece of land where he can return to his first love, working with horses. Despite everything, he keeps alive the hope that he will be able to fulfil a promise made long ago.
Each part of the book contains an immense amount of detail: about daily life aboard a battleship, the care of horses and cattle, or the steps needed to float a submerged ship. Flowing throughout the book, however, is a deep sense of the natural world. Eventually, the stories of Leo and Lottie converge and what follows is touching and intensely moving both for its intensity and its transcience.
The Redeemed is like a long train journey where, whilst you’re keen to reach your destination, there’s also immense joy to be found in watching the beautiful scenery go by.
In three words: Lyrical, moving, immersive
Try something similar: The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason
About the Author
Born in 1956, Tim Pears grew up in Devon and left school at sixteen. He worked in a wide variety of unskilled jobs: trainee welder, assistant librarian, trainee reporter, archaeological worker, fruit picker, nursing assistant in a psychiatric ward, groundsman in a hotel & caravan park, fencer, driver, sorter of mail, builder, painter & decorator, night porter, community video maker and art gallery manager in Devon, Wales, France, Norfolk and Oxford.
Always he was writing, and in time making short films. He took the Directing course at the National Film and Television School, graduating in the same month that his first novel, In the Place of Fallen Leaves, was published, in 1993. In the Place of Fallen Leaves was awarded the Hawthornden Prize and the Ruth Hadden Memorial Award.
Tim’s second novel, In a Land of Plenty, was made into a ten-part drama series for the BBC broadcast in 2001. Other novels include A Revolution of the Sun, Wake Up, Blenheim Orchard, Landed and Disputed Land. Landed was given the MJA Open Book Award and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
In the Light of Morning was a departure, set in Yugoslavia in the Second World War. Tim then embarked on his most ambitious work, a trilogy of novels (The Horseman, The Wanderers and The Redeemed) set before, during and in the aftermath of the First World War.
Tim is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. (Bio credit: Author website/Photo credit: Goodreads author page)