Wow! Yes, this is a “wow” book and I’m pretty sure it has just marched onto my favourite books of the year list.
I’m finding that books set during the First World War are really capturing my attention these days and parts of this book are set in the final days of that conflict when Captain Godfrey Farthing and his comrades are waiting for orders, wondering if they will come before the bells ring to signify the end of the war. Godfrey wants to keep his company safe if at all possible without disobeying orders.
The other strand of the story follows Godfrey’s grandson, Solomon, in 2016. He’s an heir hunter tasked with finding out if a recently deceased man had any next of kin. If books set in World War One are particular favourites for me then most definitely so are genealogical ones with investigations into family trees and long lost relatives.
What a perfect combination, therefore, The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing is. It is plotted beautifully so as to tie all the strands in without doing so in a really obvious way. It’s a companion piece to The Other Mrs Walker, Mary Paulson-Ellis’s first book and I really enjoyed the way characters from the book popped up in this one. As with that first book this is one that ideally needs reading and then reading again to fully slot all the pieces together. I love a book that is like a jigsaw puzzle but it also means that greater concentration is needed and a fair amount of flicking backwards to put it all into its place. That is absolutely not a negative point though as I found it completely enthralling from beginning to end. It’s a real voyage of discovery.
This is a big book at just over 500 pages but not for a moment was I tempted to rush it. The author has done a magnificent job of portraying the emotion of the war both through the minds and actions of soldiers at the time and also in looking at what happened afterwards and how the effects rippled down through the generations.
This is my kind of read. Deliciously complex, moving and thoughtful, I spent the last few pages in tears as all the threads were pulled together to the conclusion. Paulson-Ellis is a very talented writer. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 5/4
The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis
Mantle 9781447293941 hbk Sep 2019