Tom Keardon has been estranged from his father since turning his back on the family sheep farm to go to university. After working as a roving reporter in the Far East he now jets between London and Hong Kong running the international business he founded, but the dotcom crash is taking its toll on the company. In 2001, his father’s suicide during the Foot and Mouth epidemic in the UK forces him to face up to family responsibilities and return at last to the Yorkshire Dales. There he meets Sally, his childhood friend from the next door farm. As Tom battles to save both the farm and his business he finds himself falling in love with Sally. But can they ever be together when they inhabit such different worlds?
A story which explores the consequences of two unrelated events i.e. The UK foot and mouth epidemic 2001 and the assault on the Twin Towers, New York later in the year.
Tom and Sally, who were brought up on adjacent farms in lower Swaledale, went their different ways in young adulthood when Tom rejected the farming life and his father, who committed suicide, and went to London to found a finance company whilst Sally remained at the home farm to support her parents.
With the advent of foot and mouth disease, and the spectre of financial loss for the two farms, Tom returns home temporarily to help his mother with the funeral arrangements and the farm. At the same time, he restores his former attachment with Sally.
Meanwhile he is busy attending to a proposed takeover of the company he founded with the help and hindrance of former romantic attachments.
His conflicted life is resolved by the bombing of the Twin towers and the effects on the proposed take over with the events in his former life in Swaledale. Tom returns to the home farm and pays off the mortgage so that the home farm is safe for his mother and in memory of his father. The tale ends with Tom returning to his roots, the merging of the two farms and his proposed marriage to Sally. In the end Tom makes peace with his fathers memory.
The writing is fluent and carries the story along. The FMD epidemic and consequences in a general sense could be said to be rather perfunctorily described although the author is obviously aware of the local effects. How Swaledale was saved from the full devastating consequences of Foot and Mouth Disease are detailed thoroughly in ‘ The Hefted Famer’ by S. Haywood and B. Crossley.
Reviewer, Susan Haywood 2022
HOME GROUND BY Brian Cook
Talk about not judging the book by its cover has never been truer. I was presented with Brian’s book to review with a lovely peaceful photo of the Yorkshire Dale on the cover. It is anything but a relaxing read. It is caught up in the financial machinations of the boardroom wrangles and politics in the City of London with extra visits to Hong Kong and New York.
If this is your ‘cup of tea’ you will enjoy it. Even the visits to Yorkshire are fraught with similar financial problems and heartbreak.
I had no empathy with Tom, the main protagonist, and no other P.O.V.* was provided. The book could have been edited far more as we learn of the contents of Tom’s fridge, what he has for a pub lunch – merely sandwiches – when Yorkshire provides some gourmet specialities. Endless cup of tea or coffee are taken. If these descriptions move the story along, then all well and fine. I got tired of Sally calling her friend ‘the slicker’.
Only once does it mention on the opening page that the book is set in 2001. As I saw it was published in 2020 I thought it was more modern so was put off with why his mother had no cell phone and the phone ‘rang and rang’; cheques were written and a confidential fax was delivered to a hotel lobby. If it had been written with some flashbacks and more tension it could have been a thriller. The author has all the knowledge of Chinese customs and the days of Opium Wars in the 19th C. It is a pity it is not more fast-paced. The pace picks up towards the end but the final drama is set in the inevitable disaster of 9/11.
Reviwer: Jo Meintjes, Dec 2022