To accompany her review of my latest novel In Love and War, Linda’s Book Bag lindasbookbag.com asked me an interesting question: to tell them about something I had loved and lost. Here is what I wrote:
‘It is tempting to write about the people whom I have loved and lost – my father, for example, who was a remarkable man. He died aged 96 having lived through most of the 20th century and two world wars, having saved the silk weaving company from bankruptcy, and having lived an incredibly full and active life in spite of losing a leg in his teens after a road accident.
And then there was my mother, the most caring, loving, intuitive, home-making mum you could ever hope for. A light went out of my life when she died.
But you have asked for something, not someone. So what I have chosen is a house, the house that my parents built for themselves, a modest bungalow in a beautiful position on the edge of a wartime gravel pit that had filled up with water. It was, literally, the house on the lake. We moved there when I was nine, and I thought I’d arrived in heaven: a large garden, much of it completely wild, an apple orchard and a lake on which we paddled rafts and small boats, playing pirates. In springtime the water was thronged with ducklings, goslings and cygnets.
My father and mother remained very much in love throughout their lives and in my mind this place seemed to symbolise their marriage. They built it together and right to the end both of them relished every aspect of living there. Sadly, once they died, it had to be sold.
Recently, the new owners demolished the bungalow and built a much larger house on the plot. Now I avoid driving down that road: it is too painful to return. But one day I will recreate that place in my imagination, for a novel.’