Memories of family, single parenthood and sheep in the remote wilds
of Wales.In the first 150 pages of her memoir, Clare describes the
courtship and marriage of his willful, endearing, frustrating
parents. Though Jenny and Robert were journalists in London, she
insisted on buying a farm in Wales for weekend getaways and, as the
months rolled by, wanted to spend more and more time there. But the
arrival of the children made it clear to Robert that they simply
could not afford the second property. Eventually, Jenny had to
choose, and went for the sheep and the Welsh landscape over her
marriage. Clare's descriptions of that landscape are evocative and
simple: "In the cold the mountains look like clenched fists," he
writes. Remarkably evenhanded portraits of his parents present
their flaws and foibles with generosity and sensitivity; without
editorializing, the author offers lengthy quotations from Jenny and
Robert's letters and journals. He falters, however, when discussing
his boyhood. Conversations with Jenny about the possibility that
the farm is haunted are a bit too precious, as are transcribed
"chats" with cuckoo birds: " 'Cuckoo,' he shouted. 'CUCKOO!' I
answered. 'Cuck-coo?' he replied. . . . 'Cuckcoo,' I affirmed."
Fortunately, the memoir comes back around to Jenny, who decided
after a failed love affair to sell the farm. Clare renders the
leave-taking beautifully. " 'Well, goodbye, little farm,' Jenny
said. . . . It sounded strange and unconvincing, as though neither
she nor the place really believed she was leaving."Generally
uneven-at its best, this recalls Jill Ker Conway's Road from
Coorain; at its worst, a school theme paper. (Kirkus Reviews)
When Jenny and Robert fall in love in the late 1960s they decide to
build a new future together, away from the city. They escape to an
isolated sheep farm nestled on a mountainside. It has no running
water but it is beautiful and rugged. Their young sons can roam
wild. As their flock struggles, money runs low and rain drives in
horizontally across the fields, inside the ancient house their
marriage begins to unravel. Wilful and romantic, Jenny refuses to
abandon her farm. She will bring her boys up single-handedly on the
mountain. Together they embark on a perilous adventure. Running for
the Hills is astonishing family memoir - Horatio Clare vividly
recreates his mother's extraordinary way of life and his own
bewitching childhood in a magical story of love and struggle.
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