Ever since reading 'The Chamomile Lawn', probably Mary Wesley's most well known book, I have actively sought out her other books. She had quite a life, and when she came to begin her career as a novelist in her seventies, there sure was a lot of life to draw upon for her story telling and her characters. Her stories centre primarily on a female, usually young, who has not had an easy road through life - orphaned, abused, depressed, pregnant. You get the picture. They are all feisty, trying to look after themselves, fight their way through the life circumstance they find themselves in. Her characters are richly and  gorgeously drawn, not all of them are nice people, but the nice ones are the types of characters who gradually wriggle themselves under your skin. The baddies generally stay that way!

So this novel, first published in 1994, is just as intriguing, off beat, and finally comforting as her other novels. It centres on Julia Piper, a young woman who first draws attention to herself when she pulls the automatic brake on a train so she can dash out and rescue a sheep she has seen lying on its back in a passing field. Two people on the train take a special interest in this young woman whose face seems full of tragedy and has brought the train to a standstill - Sylvester Weekes, a publisher going through a nasty marriage break up; and Maurice Benson, ex-private detective now bird watcher, and general busy body. One has honourable intentions, and the other doesn't. From such a bizarre incident, the paths of these three inevitably cross, and the story behind Julia's sheep rescue gradually unfolds.

Betrayal features in so many of Mary Wesley's books, and it is a dominant theme here.  But also of hope, overcoming the adversity of broken lives, healing, and finding new life within yourself and with others. It is typical Mary Wesley, and why I love her books so much. 

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