The third novel by the author of South Riding Joanna Burton was born in South Africa but sent by her missionary father to be raised in Yorkshire. There she dreams of the far-off lands she will visit and adventures to come. At 18, tall and flaxen-haired, she meets Teddy Leigh, a young man on his way to the trenches of World War I. Joanna has been in love before—with Sir Walter Raleigh, with the Scarlet Pimpernel, with Coriolanus—but this is different. Teddy tells her he's been given the world to wear as a golden ball. Joanna believes him and marries him, but the fabled shores recede into the distance when, after the war, Teddy returns in ill health. The magic land turns out to be the harsh reality of motherhood and life on a Yorkshire farm, yet still she dares to dream
This is the first book that I have read by this Author and it definitely won't be the last as I've already got South Riding waiting to be read on my bookshelf somewhere. I enjoyed the writing style and found it to be a good mix of narrative and descrptive passages.
I chose this as my First World War read. The story relates the life of Joanna Burton, who travelled to Yorkshire to be brought up by her Aunts, following her early childhood in the Transvaal and the death of her Mother and Teddy Leigh, who she meets as he's leaving for the trenches of World War I. Joanna is a dreamer, dreaming of life in faraway lands but fate has other plans for her, she dreams of her heros Sir Walter Raleigh and others. Teddy Leigh knocks her off her feet and a whirlwind romance ensues followed by marriage.
Life for Joanna will never be the same as Teddy returns from the War, he is not the man he was when he left as he returns a broken man damaged by his experiences and the War. Winifred Holtby conveys the feelings and emotions that this traumatised man is going through and the repercussions on those around that he loves.
It must have been so hard on everyone concerned but will be no different than it is nowadays for the men, women and their families following tours of duty that the Forces do. PTSD is not a new phenomenom at all.
If you have never read any of Winifred Holtby's writing before, please put that right and pick up one of her books and this is as good a place to start as any. I gave this an 8/10.