The Land, The Land is a story of one man and, simply summarised, his love for his land. Roger Oldfield, our narrator, lives in Yorkshire, England with his family made up of Anne, his wife, Lily, his daughter, Danny, his son and his dad and they live a happy existence, sheep farming in the Dales. It is not always easy but it is one for which they are equipped, especially Roger, as he feels an attachment and a duty to the land that he farms; a connectedness so strong that he believes he must preserve the land as its custodian.
However, this is all bound for upset when Roger spots strangers on his land with binoculars representing businessmen from London needing access to his farm for a railway to transport quarried stone. Roger is offered a lot of money to allow this to happen but is resistant for the reasons cited above.
Of course, the businessmen are not going to give in easily and so, what ensues is a battle between Roger and the others: the businessmen and politicians, the quarry owners and other farmers who will benefit.
The strength in Robin Hawdon’s book, I think, is his depiction of the family life of the Oldfields. Characters are strong and well-drawn and I especially like the relationship between Roger and Anne. There is a sense that they have a marriage that will endure, built on attraction initially but honed throughout the years into something strong; not unshakeable but knitted together with knowledge of and respect for each other’s needs.
Hawdon is able to show how the net is tightening around Roger and there is a real danger that he will lose everything that matters to him. Even with support from other individuals, eventually, like a maze, there are less and less places to turn until it feels like the end is inevitable.
But ultimately, this is an optimistic book in tone. It has dark moments but nothing too severe and it makes for easy, light reading with some touches of humour. It is about greed and how this can contort as well as the way ordinary people’s lives can be governed from afar by politicians with agendas. But it is also about people coming together to help each other and finding a way through, wrapped up in a good story.
Just the sort of book for light summer reading.
This book review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.