A Season of Leaves
The novel begins in 1992, in Cornwall, England, with an old lady, Rose Pepper, preparing for a trip to Prague. Many intriguing mysteries are set up in this first chapter; a scar, half-remembered memories, hidden unopened letters and lots of hints about the past leaving the reader suitably curious to find out what happened. The story then switches back to wartime England and the reader is immersed in the world of air-raids, uniforms, black-outs and so on. The historical details set the scene but don’t overwhelm the characters or story. Rose becomes a Land Girl and although engaged to the deeply unpleasant Will, she meets and falls in love with a Czech soldier. The later parts of the novel switch to Prague showing the problems, fears and difficulties of Czechoslovakia at that time, particularly the tribulations caused by the presence of the Russians and the beginnings of the communist state.
Sometimes it is easy for modern women to become a little frustrated with Rose not standing up for herself as much as she might but this is, in fairness, probably more accurate for a nice, young girl of the Forties. The novel is very enjoyable, entertaining and deserves to be very popular. If you liked The Outcast or The Welsh Girl, you’ll probably love this. The harshest of critics might find it a very little bit clichéd, but who cares? It’s an excellent, old-fashioned story and I found it thoroughly compelling.