In the summer of 1971, a group of friends are invited to Somerset to help photographer Seymour Stratton, to renovate a dilapidated cottage on Wyld Farm. Over the next year the group start to regard the farm as offering them a place to be for the rest of their lives, ‘the good life’. But eighteen months later, the rural idyll collapses. Twenty-five years later, the group is brought together again when they inherit the cottage from Seymour. But the events of the past have not been forgotten and secrets will be revealed that will devastate once unbreakable friendships….
I am happy to share a guest post with you written by the author. Enjoy!
Importance of location
I lived in Somerset in the 1970s on a farm with a group of friends. Locals called us ‘hippies’, and I suppose we were in that we rejected what our parents thought we ought to be doing, such as getting jobs. We just did things a bit differently. It was a transformative time for me, learning about self-sufficiency, plants and animals, and much of what I learned then is part of the fabric of my life now, even though I live in a city.
Somerset is a county people often whizz through on their way to Exmoor or the coast at Porlock. But beautiful places to see. But those who go more slowly marvel at the rolling Brendon hills and the dramatic views over to the Bristol Channel and South Wales. People love the beech hedges, an elegant green barrier to the cutting wind that whips across the landscape, and they wonder at the woods and valleys tucked into the lee of the hills.
It was returning to Somerset that inspired me to write Wyld Dreamers. It seemed the perfect setting for a novel which explores secrets and lies and how they break people apart or bring friends together. The area is isolated, so the group is thrown back on its resources. They depend on each other, work and play together. There are dependencies and disappointments; there is fun and there is fear. When they are kicked off the smallholding and return to more conventional lives, they lose touch. Only when unexpected circumstances bring them back together 25 years later do they start to examine what living together in the countryside meant to them.
The characters are fictitious but their responses to the landscape in particular mirror my own. A young woman starts to dig and plant a vegetable garden, something she has never done before. Coping with her mother’s sudden death, she finds comfort tending plants and working with the soil. It was like this for me. My mother had died a few years before I moved to Somerset and I had not fully mourned the loss. There was something about witnessing the cycle of nature, watching things germinate, grow, mature and die, that helped me to heal.
Nature can be restorative, most of us know that for ourselves. Escaping the computer to pick the beans on my allotment is a brilliant way to refresh and reboot. I carry what I learned by living in Somerset with me. Going back to a location we know and love brings back memories of people, special times and deep feelings. So for me, location is a necessary ingredient to the novels and short stories I write.
Thank you, Pamela Holmes and LoveBooksGroup.
About the author
Pamela Holmes was born in Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of eight, she moved with her family to England. She works and volunteers to improve the lives of older people, including those with dementia, and sings in a rock band. She won the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014 and her shortlisted work was highly recommended in the HISSAC award 2015. Pamela lives in London with her husband, acclaimed cartoonist Kipper Williams.