As always with Robert Hale books, this is splendidly produced with a well-chosen typeface and a pleasure to (be)hold. Setting her novel in 1900s Yorkshire, in times of growing urban population in the woollen industries of Leeds, Ann Cliff gives a vivid picture of life in Firby, a farming village threatened with the prospect of flooding to make a reservoir to supply the West Riding.
When the local landowners, Major and Lady Agnes, return from India to face the problem, their estate manager fears eviction, but his daughter Rachel follows the council surveyor’s progress, taking up reporting it for the local paper. She has more than that to defend when Guy Potts, the landlord’s son, corners her in a greenhouse.
Rachel is encouraged to go to her grandfather, who needs company after an accident. Here she learns the Firby reservoir project is still alive when Roger, the young surveyor she loves, returns. He reveals that due to interference from Guy Potts the project to flood Firby has been revived.
This fine book melds civil engineering with a countryside romance. Gems like ‘the beauty of the sheltered valley gave back the warmth of the day’ and good action at the estate shoot bring the story alive. There are few passages when nothing seems to happen to further the story.