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From a Distance

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  122 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
One of Britain’s favourite chroniclers of life and the rural dream returns with a compelling story of a family divided by war.

April, 1946. Michael, a soldier, returns to Southampton on a troop ship. Brutalised and in shock, he cannot face the life that awaits him at home. Impulsively he boards a train to the western tip of Cornwall, where his life is shaped by his heart an
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 8th 2014 by Bloomsbury
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(showing 1-30)
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Alison Cubitt
Mar 25, 2014 Alison Cubitt rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-review
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill's Book Cafe
Aug 11, 2016 Jill's Book Cafe rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
From a Distance tells the stories of 3 main characters Michael, Kit and Luisa.

Michael’s story starts in 1946 when as a soldier he returns to Southampton on a troop ship. Finding himself unable to return to his native Norfolk he boards a train to Cornwall. Kit and Luisa’s story are set in present day Norfolk. Kit is a confident and successful businessman who arrives to take up an unusual inheritance, while Luisa is settled with a family and is struggling to re-assert her own identity as her chil
Jul 20, 2014 Boorrito rated it it was ok
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

This book was a misfire for me. The chapters set in post-war Cornwall kept my attention but eventually suffered from the same weakness that the parts in modern day Norfolk did, which was a complete avoidance of conflict. I don't mean that everything should have ended in EastEnders style bust-ups, but every revelation in this book seems to be calmly accepted by all those involved, almost as if Barker decided that once she'd built up to a
Marion Granigan
Oct 03, 2016 Marion Granigan rated it liked it
A very undemanding romance. The characters are pleasant, as are the settings. A nice story with few surprises.
Mar 29, 2014 Triduana rated it it was ok
This book reminded me of lazy summer evenings, sitting in the garden with friends and family, chatting about nothing of consequence into the smal hours and watching the sun rise again the next morning. It had the same sleepy quality to it, where things moved at their own pace and nothing was rushed.

I entered the Goodreads givewaway to win this book as I was interested in the way in which the strands of the story would mesh together. The two main locations in the book - Cornwall and Norfolk - are
Mar 31, 2014 Debbie rated it liked it
Shelves: 1st-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2014 marlin1 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, own, ebook
On returning home from the war Michael can't face the life that may wait for him in Norfolk. a fiancée he hardly knows and his guilt that he lived while his brother died in the war.
A split second decision sees him take a train in the opposite direction to Cornwall and he finds himself in a town called 'Mousehole'. Here he meets Felicity and falls in love, but a new chapter in his life sees him thinking about the family he left behind.
Fifty years on, after his mothers death, Kit comes into an inh
Abandoning this one a few chapters in. I've met all three main characters and I'm not connecting with any of them.
Dean P.
Oct 24, 2014 Dean P. rated it it was ok
I think the characters just felt too cardboard-like for my taste. The author's descriptions are spent more on things like the food Luisa is crafting while neglecting to give enough depth to Luisa herself to make me feel like she is alive.

Likewise I felt the same with Michael's character. Theoretically broken from the war, he comes across the pages as a listless twenty-something man that could generally describe many people, war experience or not. Kit's relationship with his now-deceased mother s
Jill Robertson
Jul 03, 2016 Jill Robertson rated it liked it
Shelves: family-saga
I picked this book because I loved the cover, and any story with a lighthouse in it is a winner with me. It started off as a definite 4 star, with its family-secret-from-the-past storyline, switching between the story of Michael and Felicity in post-second world war Cornwall, and Kit and Tom's family in 21st century Norfolk. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. I was immersed in the author's evocative and lyrical language as she described the Cornish seaside town with its ...more
Jul 22, 2016 Americanogig rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for an author who has the power to make you feel like you are physically in the novel and Barker does that quite well. Which is fortunate because I've always wanted to visit the English seaside, especially Cornwall (I suppose there is a lot of English seaside, now that I think about it - being an island and all). A story about passions and the connections that forged by them, echoing through the lives of others. A very well-written story, it's still difficult for me to love because ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Kay rated it liked it
I liked the writing in this book. I liked how the characters were built and the places described. I enjoyed the plot and how in the end all the disparage pieces were woven together. All in all it was an enjoyable read. That being said, it was one of those books that after finishing itand thinking about it -- I thought WHAT? This ending doesn't make any sense! If these characters had found their soul mates in each other, as the story says, then it wouldn't have ended this way. The protagonists ...more
Jo Verity
Apr 06, 2014 Jo Verity rated it did not like it
I received this book via a giveaway and was looking forward to discovering a new writer.
I'm afraid I gave up after about 80 pages. Neither the story nor the characters engaged me. There seemed to be too many people mentioned - several beginning with the initial M - whom I wasn't sure were vital to the story and therefore wasn't sure how much attention to pay them. And far too much ice-cream talk.
It may be that my two previous reads - 'Benediction' (Kent Haruf) and 'In a Foreign Country' (Hilar
Elizabeth Grieve
Nov 24, 2015 Elizabeth Grieve rated it it was ok
This was, for me, one of those books which makes you regret the time spent on it ... I had kept hoping for it to get better, but it didn't. The characters were not particularly sympathetic, and I didn't like the writing style which seemed quite odd at times. The part where Michael left Cornwall did not feel at all realistic, and there was far too much about the ice cream. It seemed like 'chick lit' mixed up with a wartime story, and in my opinion, didn't work.

I hadn't read anything by this autho
John Benson
Aug 29, 2014 John Benson rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read by Raffaella Barker. In the story, she has a man drive from Cornwall to Norfolk in England to claim a lighthouse he had inherited. The back story of the connections between these two places is shown through the life of Kit's father, Michael, a World War II vet, who ends up setting up lives in both places. The story continues with the next generation and their connections. I enjoyed the characters and her writing style. At times, however, she settles things too ...more
Ruth Brumby
Mar 25, 2016 Ruth Brumby rated it it was ok
It is made clear that this book is intended to be like the ice cream made by the heroine: enjoyable but not lasting or substantial. I enjoyed it and I liked reading about Norfolk, but something about it didn't quite work for me. The storyline about the links over time wasn't satisfyingly convincing. I felt at odds with the narrator's apparent moral viewpoint on the man's failure to sort himself out. I'm sure people did behave as he did following the war, but it just didn't convince emotionally.
Aug 31, 2015 Kim rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 13, 2014 Tracy rated it really liked it
A beautiful portrayal of family. Switching between the past and present, layers of family history are uncovered. From post war Cornwall and the present in Norfolk, the story provides plenty of action, laughs and tears. Read the full review at OurBookClub.
Mar 20, 2014 Rachael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Such a wonderful, heart-warming book! Beautifully written. The story moves so seamlessly between the two different time zones, and I loved finding out how all the different characters stories connected.
I'll definitely be reading more of Raffaella's books in the future :)
Weaving two narratives together, Barker illustrates how war affects the lives of both soldiers and civilians for decades, and how decisions made in one generation have the power to influence and shape those of the future.
Nov 12, 2014 Louise rated it it was ok
I loved Raffaella Barker's early novels, but her recent few have been disappointing. I hoped this might be a return to her previous form but I didn't warm to any of the characters and didn't find the storyline engaging. Disappointing.
Sep 23, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
A lovely and well-written book. I really enjoyed this, especially the historical aspect about the Cornish artistic community.
Oct 17, 2014 Elaine rated it it was amazing
I love Raffaella Barker's writing, and this book did not disappoint. Another one for my favourites shelf!
Sep 01, 2014 Claudia rated it it was ok
I rate just ok. The two big moments in the book are skimmed over without much emotion. But a easy beach read
Mar 30, 2015 Liselott rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, romance, won, own
Took me around 50 pages to get my attention but then it just went flying. A nice romantic novel. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the female characters weren't so 'fictional' though.
Anne Broyles
Parallel stories of a British soldier returning home after the war (1946), and contemporary people living in the same area where the soldier lived for a year.
Oct 10, 2014 Ellen rated it it was ok
Just okay, a cute story that seemed to drone on in parts and gloss over other more important scenes. I got bored and skimmed to the good parts.
Daz rated it it was ok
Aug 25, 2015
Su rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2016
Ruby Simpson
Ruby Simpson rated it it was amazing
Dec 02, 2014
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Raffaella Barker was born in London in 1964 and moved to Norfolk when she was three. Her father, the poet George Barker, had 15 children; she is the oldest of those by the novelist Elspeth Barker.

She spent her childhood in Norfolk sulking and refusing to get dressed, going everywhere in her nightie. She recalls worrying about how to respond at school when asked how many brothers and sisters she h
More about Raffaella Barker...

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