a sense of belonging
As I was leaving this book was thrust into my hands.
I loved the cover and title so I didn’t need much persuading.
“Tamar” is a fusion of two stories.
Mal Peet sets the scene as two “Special Ops Execs” undergo training for work with the Dutch resistance WW2 Holland.
They are part of a network of agents named after rivers in the South West.
To co-ordinate the Dutch resistance, and report back to Blighty.
A quarter of the way through the book “action” is suspended as the author leaps forward to a tragic event in London.
Tamar has “jumped” and come to a sticky end fifty years later.
A teenage girl is left wondering what happened to Grandad, as she attempts to unravel a mystery.
Every so often the book darts back to 1945, as the fear ratchets upwards in the lives of the agents and the remnants of the Dutch rural community.
The latter pages see “Tamar” heading down into Cornwall as she looks unlock the clues left in a carefully wrapped box.
It’s in these latter pages I found my sense of belonging. All of the spots mentioned were favourites from my youth.
As I read about Landulph I could see my Aunt’s pastel painting of the church, and remember my own visit to the riverside hamlet.
Halton Quay is where I first saw a murmuration of Starlings.
My Mum always enjoyed Cotehele, with extensive gardens, a quay and that ancient clock.
Gunnislake! Just up the valley from Splatford where my uncle Gerald once lived.
Through these final pages I visualised “Splatford”, and my Grandad (cigarette in hand), and the magnificent view of the Tamar whilst Roz and I stood on Morwellham Rocks.
Gerald and Jenny were out in the field as we called and waved, and they somehow glimpsed us in the distance.
What would I give to be back in Cornwall?
It’s nice to dream.
8 out of 10.