My book review of 'Foxash' by Kate Worsley
Having met people who have lived in communities which were once a part of the Government's Land Settlement Association of the 1930s, the initiative has always held a fascination for me. So I was intrigued to find it as the central premise for this novel. But it's no rural idyll. This is an extraordinary, gothic story: black, unsettling and haunting, it packs a powerful punch.
Lettie and Tommy grab at the opportunity to be relocated from their mining community to the countryside on the Essex-Suffolk border. They've signed up to a government scheme putting the unemployed back to work through giving them a home and smallholding. It looks a welcome new start, but it's soon clear that it won't be easy either to make a living or to fit into rural life.
Lettie is very different from neighbours Jean and Adam but she comes to feel the rhythm of life here and is full of hope that she and Tommy have put their past behind them. But they aren't the only one with secrets.
There's an other-worldliness throughout as myths and folklore seep into the everyday and ordinary, an escape and refuge from the hardships of rural life.
This is a story full of menace and foreboding, with a shocking conclusion.