Jane Cable writes with a great sense of place and her latest novel, Endless Skies, is set in North Lincolnshire, a place of wide horizons, mists and endless views. Her books always have an element of the supernatural and Endless Skies doesn’t disappoint, from shadowy figures in a field to the lingering scent of lily-of-the-valley.
Rachel Ward, an archaeology lecturer, leaves her old job after a disastrous workplace affair and moves to Lincoln University. Living in a soulless box of a flat, she makes friends with Jem who lives on a barge moored on the nearby canal. Jem is a solid steady character and becomes a mentor, almost father-like figure for Rachel who has made bad choices in the past and seems set to repeat the pattern. Jem’s new lodger, student Ben, tempts Rachel’s newly sworn promise to foreswear men. Meanwhile she takes on a freelance contract for property developer Jonathan Daubney. As she researches her report on a prospective development site at an old wartime airbase, Rachel and Jonathan fall into an instant ‘hate’ relationship.
The past is ever-present in this story which explores how what has gone before is never absent from our everyday lives, whether by actions in our lifetime or events that happened long ago. Markers are there to be seen, most clearly evident in Rachel’s fieldwalking on the old airfield where pieces of old metal are scattered. As they may belong to a wartime bomber that crashed and exploded in this place, Rachel must consult a ballistics expert and dig test pits. And so the past delays the present, as Jonathan is unable to proceed with his property plans until Rachel’s report is finished. Cable handles well the personal and work conflicts between Rachel and Jonathan. Both are emotionally damaged in ways which are gradually revealed.
My favourite character was Esther, an elderly resident at the care home run by Jonathan’s mother. As a teenager in the war, Esther worked at the laundry on the airbase and she is key to our understanding of the book. As Rachel teases out Esther’s memories, the interlinked past and the present starts to make sense.
This is a contemporary romance and is firmly rooted in the present day but I would love to know more about the wartime story of Freddie, Teo and Esther. It was so uplifting to read about a firmly-rooted friendship between two women, Rachel and Esther – one young, the other elderly – and see how they enrich each other’s lives.
BUY THE BOOK
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ENDLESS SKIES by @JaneCable #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4RQ via @SandraDanby