Harper Collins, £16.99
With 'The Journey' acclaimed author Josephine Cox takes us on a romantic stroll through times past, to present a story of love and betrayal, that remains warm throughout, despite a somewhat disappointing conclusion.
When Ben Morris meets Lucy Baker and her daughter Mary in a graveyard, he is intrigued. Seemingly burdened with deep suffering, the pair visit a grave that bears an extraordinary inscription, that instantly arouses Ben's curiosity. Barney Davidson's tombstone claims that he had made the greatest sacrifice of all, a tribute that Ben finds fascinating. And with his growing attraction to the quiet Mary, he is determined to hear the story of this great man and his tremendous sacrifice.
When he eventually hears the telling of Barney's tale, we are transported back to 1930s England, where Lucy Baker's life becomes entwined with that of Barney Davidson and his generous family. What unfolds is a story of heartbreak, betrayal, confused loyalties and great loves.
The strength of 'The Journey' lies firmly in the telling of Lucy Baker's fascinating life story. A charming character, she is both a broken person and one of tremendous heart in the midst of her suffering. Cox successfully creates a very likeable character in this girl that is continually dealt cruel blows by the world.
But perhaps what lets the tale down in parts, is the myriad of love stories, that suggest an overwhelming fickleness of the heart. While aptly detailing a time when love was a very different prospect in life, Cox seems a little too eager to bind all of her characters together in some kind of everlasting love. But the effort serves merely to undermine the true romances of the tale.
There is a certain sense that what you build up will only serve to disappoint as you progress through 'The Journey'. As the book progresses to its climax, where Barney's immense sacrifice is revealed, you end up piecing together a notion of some magical and overpowering secret sacrifice. What is revealed, however, seems by comparison a pale tribute to the man that has been raised so high throughout the story.
That said, 'The Journey' remains a pleasant enough read. Not overly challenging or demanding, it tells a story that is easy to absorb as it rolls along, with some very likeable characters ensuring that the story retains a certain glow until its close.