21 Jul Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp
A visit to Gobaith is must for every keen armchair traveller and romance lover!
Stuck in the house, unable to travel, I’ve really welcomed stories that take me to other places, and I’m certainly fired with a new enthusiasm for camping in Wales having just read Under A Starry Sky.
More than a romance, the story opens with a tragedy in the small-knit Welsh community of Gobaith – Wanda Williams’ father is killed in a wildfire on the mountainside where the family run a camping site. Her friend Annie’s tearaway brother Ryan is also killed, though her other friend, Lew escapes from the mountainside where he’d gone to look for Ryan. But then Lew disappears from Wanda’s life, gone to study in Scotland and not even returning for her father’s funeral. Their budding romantic relationship is cut short before it can bloom, and Wanda’s relationship with Annie is also over – how can she be friends with the brother of her father’s killer?
Fast forward fifteen years, and Wanda is preparing to leave Gobaith at last for a year of travelling, something she’d put on hold after her father’s death. It’s the right time for her to go, especially as both Lew and Annie (who is fleeing her abusive husband) have returned to the village. This way she can avoid them both.
Then on the eve of her departure, her mother breaks her hip and Wanda has to abandon her travel plans once more, in order to help her pregnant sister Carys run the campsite. And when she discovers the mountain of work needing done there, she has to call on her neighbours to help – neighbours who include Lew and Annie. Will they be able to mend bridges along with cracked shower stalls, broken fences and bent tent pegs?
This is a lovely, multi-layered story that follows the fortunes of Wanda, Lew and Annie as they finally come to terms with their past and look towards the future. It’s peopled with a host of lovely characters, from village matriarch Blod, to young Cockney widower Spike and his 11-year-old son Arthur, to single mum-to-be Carys, whose search for Danny, her baby’s father, is a subplot of the story.
A well-paced story, the narrative races along at a cracking pace, but there’s always time to stop and admire the beautifully-described views, smell the coffee and bara brith, and feel the heat of the crackling tension between Wanda and Lew, as each battles their demons to come to a new understanding. But can they recapture the romance of their teenage years? Will there be a happy ending for Annie? And will Wanda discover that despite her wanderlust, true happiness lies nearer to home?
Each chapter of this charming story opens with a visitors’ review of the campsite. If I were able to add mine, it would read: I’m so happy to have had the chance to visit Gobaith and meet Wanda, Lew and Annie. The beauty of the Welsh hillside, the warmth of the villagers’ welcome, the laughter and fun of community life and the promise of romance kept me enthralled, and I long to return there one day.
Come on Laura Kemp. With such a great range of characters, and the opportunity at the holiday campsite to introduce many more, there must be scope for another lovely story from Gobaith!
Published by Orion in paperback, RRP £8.99. Also available in ebook and audio.
About The Author