“I’m running through the dark – a heavy dark – no prick of starlight to coax any shapes out of the way ahead. I’m seeing with memory and the soles of my feet. Boots are worn so thin…in daylight the roots are my friends. I know each one of them.”
It’s 1845. Eight-year old James Thorne is growing up in the New Forest. His life takes him far from his roots – first to the workhouse, next as a seaman in the Royal Navy, then to the respectable confines of urban life in 19th century Portsmouth. But he never relinquishes his joy in the Forest and the yearning for the presence of trees in his life.
This family saga traces James’s path from boy to grandfather – a story of light and shade, love and loss. For some, blackthorn is an emblem of bad luck. And in a “blackthorn winter”, spring blossom is blighted by snow and ice. But for others – especially his childhood sweetheart, Kitty – the white flowers bursting from black branches are a symbol of hope…
“It’s that white time of year – snow, frost, snowdrops and now the wonderful blackthorn doing its magic trick of light out of darkness like stars in the night sky.”