Five words from the blurb: Lake District, atmospheric, farm, labourer, secrets
I lived in the Lake District for several years so always enjoy reading books based in the area. The Proof of Love provided me with everything I needed to reminisce about life in the Lakes, but I question whether it will appeal to those unfamiliar with the area.
The book is set in a remote village where people are surprised and faintly amused by the arrival of Spencer, a mathematician from Cambridge University. Spencer agrees to work as a farm labourer and he slowly adjusts to life on the fells. The villagers tend to leave Spencer to his own devices so it is only when a ten-year-old girl called Alice befriends him that he begins feel at home in this lonely place. Their strange friendship leads to the exchange of secrets and some beautifully tender moments.
The descriptions of life in the Lake District are spot-on; the hills and lakes are perfectly described. The dialogue is also authentic and the fact the characters are normally talking to an outsider means that the colloquialisms are toned down enough for most people to understand.
The only problem I had was that the plot was a bit too slow for me. It could almost be described as gentle, but that might mislead you into thinking that this is a happy book. It isn’t. There are many tragic, sometimes disturbing, scenes sprinkled through the text, but woven between them are details of domestic chores, church services and village fetes. These will either charm you, or bore you, depending on your level of interest in the every day life of Cumbrians.
I’d recommend this to anyone with an affinity to the Lake District, but if gentle tales of sheep farming and village gossip aren’t your thing then this probably isn’t for you.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
(An) exceptional novel which will be flying into my top five books of the year…. Savidge Reads
This is not a straightforward case of intellectualism versus physicality; it’s more about showing how the farming lifestyle has taken over the Dodds family. Follow the Thread
…intense, atmospheric, muted and with a heavy stillness. Cornflower Books