#BookReview You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham @rararesources

You Let Me Go

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham which will be published on 25th March 2021. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Lake Union Publishing for my digital review copy via NetGalley.

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You Let Me GoAbout the Book

After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall – while she herself has been written out of the will. With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?

When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past. In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect those she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heart-breaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever?

​Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?

Format: ebook (316 pages)              Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication date: 25th March 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find You Let Me Go on Goodreads

Purchase links
Amazon UK
Links provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

Cornwall CreekThe story that unfolds in You Let Me Go is told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Rozenn and her granddaughter Morane, transporting the reader between Nazi occupied France in World War Two and present day Cornwall – the Helford River area to be precise. Having been fortunate enough to visit that part of Cornwall in the past, I could easily imagine the creeks described in the book.

For quite a while the reader knows more about Rozenn’s experiences than Morane does but it’s still interesting to witness Morane piecing together the fragments of information she discovers about her family’s history.

Beyond the obvious blood relationship between Rozenn and Morane, I admired the way the author introduced other more subtle connections between the two women such as their natural flair for design and appreciation for architecture. Most significantly, they share an abiding sense of guilt for their part in events that were, in some cases, not their fault. ‘Guilt could wind its fingers around you and refuse to let you go.’

The book also explores the often difficult relationships between siblings: the rivalry for parental affection; the burden of responsibility for care of younger members of the family; the similarities that can remind you only too painfully of your own shortcomings or flaws. At the same time, the story includes joyful family moments, often recorded in photographs or through treasured objects.

Being a historical fiction fan, I found myself particularly drawn to the parts of the book dealing with Rozenn’s wartime experiences and the realities of daily life under German occupation. However, I could also understand Morane’s curiosity about her grandmother’s past, if only as a distraction from the situation in which she currently finds herself – a failed relationship, financial worries and a struggling business. As Morane describes, ‘I felt an urge to delve into Rozenn’s past, find out who’d she’d been before she’d become an architect, a wife, a mother and grandmother’.

On her arrival in the Breton village to which her grandmother’s family fled from Paris during the war, Morane is perhaps fortunate to find people who were around at the time or can pass on the recollections of older family members. As the two storylines converge, the final pieces of the historical jigsaw fall into place revealing the complete picture, as well as some neat links between past and present. In fact, you could say Rozenn designed the perfect ending to ensure any rifts that might remain are healed.

You Let Me Go is an absorbing story of family secrets and how choices made in the past can reverberate down the years.

In three words: Dramatic, emotional, intriguing

Try something similar: The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes

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Eliza GrahamAbout the Author

Eliza Graham’s novels have been long-listed for the UK’s Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day’s ‘Hidden Gem’ competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.

Eliza is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she’s made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.

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Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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#BookReview The Salt Path by Raynor Winn @MichaelJBooks

About the Book

Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home and livelihood is taken away. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

They have almost no money for food or shelter and must carry only the essentials for survival on their backs as they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.

Format: Paperback (288 pages) Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: 22nd March 2018 Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Find The Salt Path on Goodreads

Purchase links*
Amazon UK | Hive (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

The Salt Path recounts the author’s experience of walking the South West Coast Path alongside her husband, Moth. The circumstances which lead them to embark on this journey only added to my appreciation of the immensity of their undertaking. As the author notes, walking the entire South West Coast Path is “the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest nearly four times, walking 630 miles on a path often no more than a foot wide, sleeping wild, living wild“.

As someone not keen on heights and for whom camping, let alone wild camping, holds no attraction whatsoever, I cannot imagine taking on such a challenge. And doing it with virtually no money, limited food (and that mostly noodles), equipped with only what could be fitted in a rucksack and without any creature comforts. Yet at one point, Raynor writes that they were “Homeless, dying, but strangely, in that sweaty, dehydrated moment, shyly, reluctantly happy”. Which just goes to show that you have to choose your attitude.

At times the pair are surprised by the reaction of others they meet. Some react negatively once they learn they are homeless. Others admire their spirit or envy their freedom to undertake such a journey. And along the way, Raynor and Moth meet a number of ‘Good Samaritans’ ranging from the pink-haired girl who gives them free food to the people who buy them tickets for the Minack Theatre.

Alongside the account of their journey are occasional sections devoted to information about homelessness, dolphin protection or the geology of the areas they pass through. And of course, the flora and fauna. Raynor’s connection with the land and the natural world, forged in childhood and passed on to her own children, really comes across. “The wild was never something to fear or hide from. It was my safe place; the thing I ran to. Our land gave that to our children. Growing like saplings in the storm, bent by it, but strengthened at the core, rooted but flexible and strong, running free in the wind, but guided by it.”

Having visited the south coast of Cornwall on a number of occasions, I was particularly drawn to the sections of the book where Raynor and Moth travel through places I’ve been to such as Mousehole, Fowey, Polruan, Falmouth and St. Mawes. One section that caught my eye was when they arrive in Morwenstow and visit the cliff top hut built by Robert Hawker, the smallest property owned by the National Trust. The same Parson Hawker features in the historical crime novel, The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield.

More than anything, I found myself moved by Raynor’s and Moth’s enduring devotion to each other. Recalling their time together, Raynor writes, “Years passed with our legs entwined, in endless chatter and laughter. And all the time we lived with a passion that didn’t die…

The author writes with unflinching honesty about the low points they experience on their journey, such as when they reach Bude and find less than they were expecting in their bank account. Raynor blames herself for the events that caused them to lose their home and, as always, Moth’s welfare is at the forefront of her mind. “We’re lost. No money, no food, no home. You need to eat; you’re ill… Now I’ve dragged you out here when you should be somewhere safe, resting, not hauling a bag round the edgeland of life”. To counteract this, there are moments of humour such as their bafflement when Moth is repeatedly mistaken for a well-known poet (although not well-known to them clearly).

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Raynor talk about The Salt Path, and its follow-up, The Wild Silence, at this year’s online Henley Literary Festival. As well as telling the fascinating story of how The Salt Path came to be written and published, and the original title she came up with (it got used as a chapter title instead), Raynor revealed she and Moth are planning another “long walk” (location undisclosed). So readers can look forward to another book in future.

For me, the abiding message of The Salt Path is, in the author’s words, “Life is now, this minute, it’s all we have. It’s all we need.”

In three words: Honest, intimate, inspiring

Try something similar: The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

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About the Author

Since completing the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She now lives in Cornwall with her husband Moth and their dog, Monty.

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