It’s not often that a book sticks with me. Not like a bad bowl of chili that sticks around unwanted all night, but more like the sweet memory of a first kiss. One of those memories we pull out once in a while, cherish, and tuck back into it’s special place in our consciousness. Ferney by James Long is such a book. Like that kiss, once in a while I take out the memories of this book, cherish them for a while, and tuck them back.
Ferney is the name of a main character as well as the title of the book.We’re introduced to Ferney in the first sentence:
“As he looked for the bones of his long-dead wife, Old Ferney came close to death.”
Old Ferney spends much of his time searching for those bones. He almost dies when his memory of the lay of the land superimposes itself over current reality. Lost in thought in another time, he wanders onto the A303. The slip stream of a fast moving truck knocks him to the ground. The truck driver manages to avoid hitting Ferney and in the process creates a fortuitous traffic snarl.
Fortuitous for whom, though? That would be Gally. She is a newlywed with a most understanding husband, Mike. Gally suffers from a lifetime of nightmares and panic attacks and is unable to find their cause. Caught in the same traffic snarl that Ferney accidentally contributes to, a panic attack, well, attacks. Mike, seeking relief for Gally, bumps over the verge and takes the next turn onto the small lane to the neighboring village of Penselwood. It is the seemingly accidental discovery of Penselwood that sets Gally on a path towards healing and learning the truth of her history, one that stretches back through time itself, and of her relationship with Ferney.
Gally and Mike relocoate to Penselwood, which is located in Somerset County, England. It is a real village and much of its history and the historical events that happened in and around the village are also a vital part of our story. Inevitably, they meet Ferney. As the layers of the story reveal themselves, we are drawn into their history. The ending of the story is quite powerful. I find myself still wondering what happens next in the latest turn of their lives.
I first read this book several years ago when I discovered an advanced reader’s copy on my shelves. I know not from where it came or even how it came to be in my possession. I don’t even remember when it came into my possession. I thank my book fairies for finding this gem for me. Mr. Long is a master storyteller, and Ferney is a master story. You will enjoy revisiting this book from time to time as well.
To clear up any confusion, Ferney was originally published in 1998. It has been released several times since then. The most recent publishing information is included with this review, hence a release date of August 2012. Enjoy!
Reviewed By Susan
© February 2013