It’s October 1918 and the war is drawing to a close.

Toussaint Caillet returns home to his wife, Jeanne, and the young daughter he hasn’t seen growing up. He is not coming back from the front line but from the department for facial injuries at Val-de-Grâce military hospital, where he has spent the last two years.

For Jeanne, who has struggled to endure his absence and the hardships of wartime, her husband’s return marks the beginning of a new battle. With the promise of peace now in sight, the family must try to stitch together a new life from the tatters of what they had before.





 Early contender for one of my books of 2023!! That’s the effect this book has had on me! It’s quiet but extremely powerful in the subject matter, and the exploration of how the impact of war continues long after the war has ended.
It looks at a family where the husband has been away fighting, and the wife has been left back home to raise their child not knowing what is happening on the front line, and trying her best to deal with the consequences. When her husband returns home, she’s ecstatic to have him back but instantly sees he’s not the same man that left and coping with that change in personality is tough for them all.

You sense the husband, Touissant, has been through the extremes and finds it very difficult to go back to ‘normal’ life. But he won’t share with his wife what he’s been through – whether to protect them or himself – and it is just brilliantly written and explored through their interactions and the reactions of others the full impact.

The wife, Jeanne, has done all she can over the time he’s been away to protect her child, to keep normality in their life and she longed for, and dreaded, his return. Must be so harrowing to watch someone you love almost shutting themselves off from you and your life in a form of self preservation. The emotional toll on the whole family is harrowing and as you discover more about his life and experiences during the war, your heart just breaks – for them all.

A stunning book which is short in length but will stay long in the mind.





A postmodern Victorian novel about faith, knowledge and our inner needs.

The late 1870s, the Kentish village of Downe. The villagers gather in church one rainy Sunday. Only Thomas Davies stays away. The eccentric loner, father of two and a grief-stricken widower, works as a gardener for the notorious naturalist, Charles Darwin. He shuns religion. But now Thomas needs answers. What should he believe in? And why should he continue to live?

Why Peirene chose to publish this book:

‘A stunning, poetic work. Like Dylan Thomas in Under Milk Wood, Carlson evokes the voices of an entire village, and, through them, the spirit of the age. The apparent tensions between science and spirituality, Darwinism and humanism, reach a beautiful, life-affirming resolution.’ Meike Ziervogel



Publisher Website


This is a quirky little book that looks at the victorian age and the contrasts of opinions amongst a community on the subject of grief, religion and evolution.

It’s written in a slightly strange way, that takes some getting used to, but through the variety of perspectives there’s a touching and thought provoking story of a man dealing with his grief of losing his wife, leaving him with 2 disabled children, and the thoughts that run through his head as he tries – and fails! – to make sense of it all.

The majority of the community in which he lives are all very religious, so they can’t understand his questions and issues with god and belief so he almost becomes the talk of the town for the wrong reasons as they sneer at him and fail to appreciate the struggles he’s going through. He’s angry at the world but they can’t understand his pain – as you reader, you connect with him more than the other villagers! There’s the contrast of seeing the world through his pain and focussing on the injustices of the world, alongside the miracles of life as the world carries on regardless of his suffering.

I did lose track a few times with the constant changing of voices, but underneath it all there are some beautiful little observations while you follow this man searching for seeds of hope while he’s in a dark place – very telling with his job as a gardener which is all based on looking forward and the anticipation of each season ahead.




When winter comes, man and dog are snowed in. With stocks of wine and bread depleted, they pass the time squabbling over scraps, debating who will eat the other first. Spring brings a more sinister discovery that threatens to break Adelmo Farandola’s already faltering grip on reality: a man’s foot poking out of the receding snow.





Publisher Website  £12

Amazon £12


Adelmo is a man after my own heart – he doesn’t like people and prefers to spend his life living alone out of the way in the mountains, roaming the valleys and venturing into town only when he needs supplies. He seems to find comfort in the solitude, but sometimes being alone so much plays games on your mind and that is what is explored brilliantly, and beautifully in this book.

I didn’t quite know what to make of this book from the start but the more time you spend with Adelmo, then the more you get to understand his ways. But the more time you spend in his presence, the more you realise his mind isn’t quite coping with life – he is forgetting about trips he’s made to the town or people he has spoken to, and resents the fact that a ranger keeps an eye on him as he sees it as interfering and just wants to be left alone.

The only friendship he seems to allow is with a dog who starts hanging around him, and won’t be scared off and it was really quite touching to see moments shared between them – they really form a sweet bond and he begins to feel quite settled having him around. He doesn’t feel threatened by the dog as he seems to do with people. To him, the things happening seem so real so when he meets people who recount the story differently, he feels extremely threatened and scared by their recollection.

I loved how it explores the fragility of the mind, set in spectacular surroundings, and the language used was just the perfect pitch of showing how loneliness can take its’ toll – it’s dark, touching, tragic, funny and heartbreaking and for a book of only 120 pages it really packs a punch and will stay with me for quite some time.