The most memorable moments of Owen Ithell's childhood were spent on his grandparents farm in the Anglo-Welsh borderlands. Usually only there during holidays when he could accompany his grandfather, a hardscrabble farmer, on his chore rounds, Owen first cultivated his love of the soil. Most of his other memories of youth, of living at home with a cranky single mother and a disappointing academic record in school, aren't as nostalgic. Now an adult living in another, more urban part of England, he makes his living working as a gardener. He has a wife now, Mel, and three small children and believes he has found something resembling happiness.
When a fatal car accident takes the life of his young daughter and injures Owen, his hand ultimately needing to be amputated, he falls into despair to the point of alienation from his family. Eventually Owen is legally separated from his wife estranged from his remaining children. Resolving to reconnect with a time and a place he once cherished, Owen makes a drastic decision, suddenly abducting his children and embarking on a walking journey to the Welsh farm of his childhood where he hopes to attain some kind of understanding and resolution. This is a rather riveting little novel. Pears has a somewhat unorthodox writing style. A bit of an abrupt, blunt method of storytelling akin to Don Delillo or Don Robertson, the author tells a story about the frequently hardluck circumstances encountered by those in England's west country. Thomas Hardy would be proud. (FIC PEARS)