Far Away tells the story of two men, Michael Armstrong and Harry Maynard, thrown together in an Italian Prisoner of War Camp following the fall of Tobruk. Though having little in common, they agree to keep a notebook of their experiences. Michael concentrates on the day to day deprivations they suffer and life in the camp together with the hope of release or escape, whilst Harry – a professional writer prior to the war – decides to tell a highly allegorical ‘fairy story’.
Michael survives the war but Harry does not and seventy years on, Michael’s son, Ian, finds the notebooks and learns more about his father – and his part in the war – than he had ever been told.
Victoria Blake has drawn heavily on the experiences of her own father and those of another man who was the inspiration for the notebooks. Yet this is three stories in one: the lives of Michael and Harry in captivity, the tale of Pelliger in the fairy story, and of Ian who has the harrowing task of sorting through his father’s effects following his death.
I can say no more other than that this is a beautiful book, very well written, with the three stories carefully woven together to form a matter-of-fact version of war as seen by one who took part and without any graphic incidents.
I thoroughly recommend it.