Definitely a contender for my book of the year, I absolutely adored this Second World War family saga that reminded me so much of a long term favourite author, R F Delderfield.

The story begins on the eve of war, as gentleman farmer Stork Castell considers the future. Even in peacetime there are family conflicts at play, and this novel is as firmly rooted in the land and those who tend it as its name suggests. The valley and the village are described with a glorious warmth and the descriptions evoke a timeless yet frequently changing landscape in all its beauty.

As the book moves on Holland uses his deep knowledge of the era to great effect, with the younger generation across all three services and at the heart of Whitehall. The multiple viewpoints work well in the hands of such a skilled writer and rather than jarring, carry this perfectly tensioned story forwards.

Because the book ends just after the Battle of Britain I can only hope that, in the true spirit of Delderfield, it is the first of a trilogy. I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ll be if it is not.