A hauntingly intimate, deeply compassionate story about things that touch and test our human core, Wish You Were Here also looks, inevitably, to a wider, afflicted world. Moving toward a fiercely suspenseful climax, it brilliantly transforms the stuff of headlines into heart-wrenching personal truth.
From the prizewinning author of the acclaimed Last Orders, The Light of Day, and Waterland, a powerfully moving new novel set in present-day England, but against the background of a global "war on terror" and about things that touch our human core.
On an autumn day in 2006, on the Isle of Wight, Jack Luxton - once a farmer, now the proprietor of a seaside caravan park - receives the news that his brother Tom, not seen for years, has been killed in combat in Iraq. The news will have its far-reaching effects for Jack and his wife, Ellie, and compel Jack to make a crucial journey: to receive his brother's remains, but also to return to the land of his past and of his most secret, troubling memories. A gripping, hauntingly intimate, and compassionate story that moves toward a fiercely suspenseful climax, Wish You Were Here translates the stuff of headlines into heartwrenching personal truth.
There is no end to madness, Jack thinks, once it takes hold. Hadnt those experts said it could take years before it flared up in human beings? So, it had flared up now in him and Ellie.
Sixty-five head of healthy-seeming cattle that finally succumbed to the rushed-through culling order, leaving a silence and emptiness as hollow as the morning Mum died, and the small angry wisp of a thought floating in it: Well, theyd better be right, those experts, it had better damn well flare up some day or this will have been a whole load of grief for nothing.
Healthy cattle. Sound of limb and udder and hoofand mind. Not one of them mad as far as I ever saw, Dad had said, as if it was the start of one of his rare jokes and his face would crack into a smile to prove it. But his face had looked like simply cracking anyway and staying cracked, and the words he might have said, by way of a punchline, never left his lips, though Jack thinks now that ...
In his ninth novel, Swift returns to the same motifs - broken family relationships, English landscapes, and an internal narrative based on memory - that run through nearly all of his books... Swift delivers a truly remarkable story about one very unhappy family. He is a deeply affecting writer, one who explores the murky crevices of his characters and their lives... While a reader may not emerge emotionally unscathed, they will have had a deeply felt experience in reading this dark and aching novel that will resonate with you long after the last page is read.
(Reviewed by Jennifer Dawson Oakes).
Full Review (695 words).
In Graham Swift's novel, Wish You Were Here, the Luxton family twice loses their dairy herds to mass slaughter in the wake of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease
(FMD) outbreaks. Two very distinct and separate diseases, BSE and FMD, when they surface in agriculture, can be utterly devastating to farmers and national economies.
BSE is more commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease" and is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that attacks cows specifically. It causes the brain and spinal cord of affected animals to suffer a spongy deterioration, so called because of the formation of tiny sponge-like holes in the brain tissue. The United Kingdom has been most extremely impacted by BSE where it was first identified by a...
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