Her own experiences as traveller, mountaineer and skier feed into Rosie Thomas’s narrative, in the emotional pull of the high mountains, the motivations of those who go there – to trek or to climb – and the experience of being in remote places where nature is at its most harsh.
If you’re wondering about any or all of three aspects, read this book. As a female mountain traveller and trekker, they really resonated for me.
Cary / Kitty’s and Olivia’s lives intersect on the small Greek island which is home to Olivia and her family. Cary’s left an unhappy marriage behind and her friendship with Olivia (and envy of her happiness) soon leads her to try to escape her ill-fated childhood too.
Strangers Annie and Steve are caught in a bomb blast that destroys the Oxford Street department store where they were both doing their Christmas shopping. Rescued from the rubble where they had talked to keep one another alive, life gets more complicated as they each cope with the intense emotions generated by this shared experience and the fall out for their nearest and dearest.
Whilst the story is timeless the 1986/1987 setting hasn’t aged so well – it’s a world before mobile phones, when wives and mothers managed on their housekeeping – but the novel is all the more interesting for that.
Set in Pittharbor, an old whaling community turned small scale summer resort on the Maine coast, three, unconnected, generations of women feel the influence of long ago suicide Sarah Corder whose remarkable story we learn as May, the teenager of the trio, reads Voyages of the Dolphin.
Twin stories of love in the Himalaya, both rooted in the valleys and sheep farms of North Wales.
Nerys’ story is set in the late 1930s and early 1940s when she follows her Presbyterian minister missionary husband to India. Although destined for remote Ladakh, Nerys finds herself living with the wartime jet set in Srinagar. Modern day Mair follows in her in her grandmother’s footsteps, initially the company of a Swiss American couple and their toddler daughter Lotus. En route there are wonderful descriptions of Ladakhi gompa, Kashmiri mountains and passes – even if, sadly, modern borders and geopolitics mean that the mid 20th century bazaar caravan world of Leh is long gone.
I must confess (no surprise here) that having finished The Kashmir Shawl, my appetite for this part of the world has been well and truly whetted… a trek from Leh to Srinagar is on my To Do list.