by Chris Simpson
Like my first read in 2018, this book was a Christmas gift from my sister. It was a real Christmas read, too - never mind I read it now, almost a month after the holiday! It is very much a winter story and therefore still fitting for January.
Jos and Emily are an elderly couple living on a farm in the Yorkshire Dales. Farming has always been their life; Jos' family has been on the same land for centuries, and the two of them are deeply rooted in a way of life that is slowly disappearing.
Emily is ill, very ill. Jos is afraid she won't bear up much longer, and then what will become of him? He worries that he won't want to stay on the farm on his own, and then what will become of his cattle and his sheep, of his fields and woods, and last but not least, of Walter and Laura, who work the farm and the house with and for him?
Then his nephew, who he has never met since his sister emigrated to South Africa decades ago, writes to announce his visit just in time for Christmas.
Jos and Emily are excited at the prospect of finally meeting their young relative. Little do they know that the visitor arriving at their door step in the middle of heavy snowfall will bring about a change in their lives they could never have foreseen.
I loved everything about this book - its small size, beautiful cover design, good writing style, setting of the story and the general atmosphere. Similar to "Elmet" (the book I read before this one), the reader can guess something decisive will happen, but it is not leading to something terrible. When I finished the book, I wanted to know more about the people I'd "met" within its pages, even though our acquaintance was brief (it is not a very long story).
The author is another „first“ for me. According to the book cover, Chris Simpson was born in Harrogate and lives on a narrowboat with his wife on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. He is a musician (his acoustic group Magna Carta has released 23 albums and sold over 8 million records) and travels a lot. Occasionally, he also works as a lecturer, speaker and radio presenter.
Let me quote from the back of the cover what two famous readers have said about the book:
„The Visitor is a moving, evocative story that touches on the many aspects of my own experience, those childhood memories of Christmas at my home in the West Riding of Yorkshire.“ (Patrick Stewart, actor)
„Chris Simpson is a master storyteller from the heartlands of the Dales. This tale will take you there and will touch your heart.“ (James Herriot, author)
Thank you, sister, for giving me two very good reads to start the year with!