The novel begins in Lincolnshire in 1972, when Annette, who is sixteen, takes her younger sister Janie (13) to a music festival – the Great Western Express Festival. They meet a folk singer called Justin Christian, who is twenty-two.
The novel moves back and forward in time, with each chapter heading explaining which character’s viewpoint it is from and when. So we see what’s happening in the present, with flashbacks to the past and follow both Annette and Janie’s stories. In the present, they both move back to Lincolnshire to look after their elderly mother. Janie is single with three grown up children. Annette is also single, a musician and doesn’t have any kids. The sisters are still quite different to each other and don’t find it easy to get on at first.
Meanwhile, Justin has changed his surname to Citizen. He has two ex-wives, no kids, but a niece called Ivy. He is a successful politician, the Leader of the Opposition and a bit of a golden boy. But then one day, the newspapers print a story about him, which brings everything from his past to the present – including the festival and the two sisters.
I liked the Lincolnshire connection, as I’m Lincoln born and bred. (The Stonebow in Lincoln is mentioned. I got engaged there in 1989.) I also have previously enjoyed reading one of Tracey Scott-Townsend’s previous novels, The Eliza Doll, so I was happy to read this one – her seventh novel.
Tracey has a really good way of introducing characters and letting their actions help you make judgements about their personalities. She also describes settings very evocatively. At first, I found it slightly hard to work out who was who and how their stories would interlink, but once I had got this sussed, I really enjoyed it and read the second half of the book in a couple of hours.
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