Jessica Streeting and her family – sister Alice, mother Judith and father Revered Paul Farnham – move east in their ancient London taxi to the deep countryside of Norfolk. It is 1975 and the rector has a new position at the church of St Agnes in the village of Cawston. Here they find a world populated by people who embody both the ancient and new of late 20th century rural life.
Children of the soil, whose parents work it and depend on it, living a simple life as old as their church. The musical ones. The clever ones.
The artists, accountants, shopkeepers and publicans. Among it all, their vicar plays a role for all people; guide, educator, lighter of the way. Admired and adored he strove to buoy his congregation week after week, unwittingly mythologising himself as he went.
The hole he left then, when in a moment he was ripped from the community, was vast. In this epic poem Jess revisits that place, for the first time addressing the grief she so quickly suppressed in the manner of the age. She brings to life in heart-breaking clarity the joy of a world made by industrious children and their imaginations, until unforeseen tragedy muted the colours of that golden time.
With a foreword by Stephen Fry – for whom Paul Farnham played an inspirational role – Sea-Change is a book whose potency reminds us not only of the power of shared stories, but also that how they are told can make us all feel like players in their drama.
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