At first I was very reluctant about reading this, a book based during the first world war (I have never been overly keen on war-based literature), but Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon hit me in the face like a huge surprise.
Based at an almost indeterminate time, Chris Guthrie and her family, brothers, mother and father, all live in a farm in Scotland. Little by little, rot sets in, her mother dies tragically, committing suicide, having realised that she has 6 children and another on the way. Unfortunately her death also brings about the death of the youngest children – twins. Chris then watches as her two surviving younger brothers are adopted by a childless aunt, and then her brother, Will, runs away to marry Mollie, his childhood sweetheart. They end up in Argentina.
After Will leaves, her father injures himself and slowly dies, leaving Chris alone to look after the family farm. She marries, and watches as her own life changes. It is only when she realises that she is pregnant (and grows fearful that she could become her mother) that she can no longer return to being the young Chris Guthrie, that she must leave her childhood behind her and become Chris Tavendale.
In time, war comes to Kinraddie and her husband goes off to fight. When he comes back she strikes him from her heart because of his cruelty, but regrets it soon after, when it’s too late.
This book is the first of three and though it’s not necessary, I will be reading the other two because my heart needs to learn that Chris survives, that she gets through the pain and hardship, that her marriage to the Reverend Colquohoun doesn’t end in horrifying disaster, that young Evan grows up to be the man his father was unable to become.