Forty year-old Nicola Rhys-Jones is a woman in hiding. A gifted painter of luminously tranquil canvases, her life has been anything but. Fleeing an abusive husband—fleeing, indeed, a lifetime of abuse—she has found refuge, though a lonely one, in Boscastle, a tiny village on the stormy coast of Cornwall, in England.
Andrew Stratton is a man on the run from himself. An admired American professor of abstract architectural theory, he has never built a building. In work, and in life, he’s always felt safer living in his head than engaging his heart. Shocked into consciousness when his ambitious wife leaves him for someone more successful, Andrew acts on impulse for the first time in his life: he signs up for a weeklong course in the timeless art of building traditional dry stone walls—something physical, tangible, real. The course is taught in England, in Boscastle.
From the moment they meet, Nicola and Andrew seem at daggers drawn. Nicola, sexy but also thorny and sarcastic, is expert at shielding herself from pain. In Andrew, however, she meets her match. Quick-witted, funny, and bright, he gives as good as he gets, his humor wry and yet gentle.
It takes Lilly, a nine year-old sprite of a girl who calls herself “Lee,” to make them see the truths about themselves they cannot see on their own. And it takes a cataclysmic natural disaster, a flood of almost Biblical proportions, for Nicola and Andrew to understand how much they love each other—and the oddly charming little girl.
Set in landscape of jagged coastlines, dizzying cliffs, steep valleys, and verdant hills, a land steeped in legend, the village of Boscastle is the kind of community, now almost extinct, where people will take a stranger into their hearts. It’s the kind of place where they know your drink the second time you stop into the pub, a place where the much-loved vicar has been known to make referrals to the town witch, a place where, when disaster strikes, people come together and the true spirit of the place rises again—a place, in short, where magic can still heal deep wounds.
Fans of Will North’s lyrical debut novel, The Long Walk Home, will be swept away by this spell-binding novel of love, loss, and the power of nature to alter the course of our lives.