The Farm at the Edge of the World, by Sarah Vaughan

The Farm at the Edge of the World, by Sarah Vaughan

I’m really enjoying second books at the moment. It’s usually the debuts that get all the fuss: debut novel awards, the puff on Twitter and Facebook, the feeling that this is the moment that counts. And us writers often talk about second novels as a challenge. Can we do it again? What if the first one was a fluke? What if we can’t even finish writing the second one?! But it turns out that everything is ok. I’ve read a number of seconds lately that have taken the position set by the debut and built on it quite beautifully. And The Farm at the Edge of the World is definitely one of them.

Will Cooke has been evacuated from war-torn London to a remote Cornish farmhouse, nicknamed Skylark Farm, along with his younger sister Alice. He knows that he wants to stay there forever. As he follows a hands-on apprenticeship as a farm boy, daughter of the house Maggie – his friend from the moment he arrived – is away at school in Bodmin. Over the long summer of 1943, as the harvest is brought in, their friendship begins to develop into something more.

In the present day, Skylark Farm has fallen on tough times. Maggie is now an old woman, and her widowed daughter, Judith, and grandson, Tom, are fighting to keep the farm going in a harsh climate. Granddaughter Lucy finds herself pulled back to Cornwall from her busy but fracturing life in London, and is drawn into plans to diversify in an attempt to save the farm from plans for redevelopment. As Lucy tries to decide where her future should be, old secrets are about to be uncovered.

The Farm at the Edge of the World is a love story, but on many many different layers, each one delicately balanced in an ecosystem firmly rooted in a beautifully evoked setting. There’s young love, the memory of love past, the love of place and family, of the pressures that challenge relationships and the patterns that play out, some to happy endings, some not.  It’s also a love story to a place – Cornwall – yet it doesn’t shy away from the muck and graft of life on the farm.  and the book is the better for it, but she never lets it overwhelm the story. . , finishing the book in one greedy gulp. Highly recommended (and I’m very much looking forward to number three, Sarah!).


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