Published: 28/01/2017
ISBN: 9781785898662
Format: Paperback



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I was born in Mill Hill, North London and educated at University College School, Hampstead, and afterwards at King’s College, Cambridge where I read Classics. I followed a career in education, lar... read more

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Bright Tracks
by Richard Pike

“In the summer of 1959, the year in which most of our group were twenty-one, when Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister, and we’d never had it so good, a small group from King’s College Cambridge set out for a travelling holiday during the long vacation which took just over five weeks. It was probably the last time before retirement we’d ever enjoy so much free time...”

In 1959, four student friends from Cambridge join a party travelling by train to Greece. Their train, the Tauern Express, takes three days to make the journey across Europe from Ostend – a long way from the convenience of international trips today.

Over their six weeks backpacking abroad, the travellers discover a way of life very different from their own and a country struggling to emerge from the ravages of war. As they make their way across Greece, they take the opportunity to explore Greece’s rich array of historical places of interest, and meet a host of colourful characters. In this fascinating re-creation of their Odyssey, Bright Tracks opens a time capsule into 1950s Europe and reveals attitudes of the time and adventures they will never forget.

Bright Tracks is a lively, often humorous account of a world now lost to the modern tourist. Lavishly illustrated with over 160 photographs, including pictures Richard and his companions took back in 1959, it will appeal to those with an interest in Greek history and culture, as well as those looking to reminisce on their own travelling days.

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John Hemingby is a loving husband and father, a musician, teacher, and a man of peace. But when the Great War breaks out, trapping him and his family in France, John can no longer be at peace with himself. He feels strongly he must help his country and his fellow-man - but will not kill. This realistic and dramatic novel tells of the effects of war on one extended family at home in London and abroad after John decides to volunteer for service in the Medical Corps. His beloved artistic daughter, six-year old Dorothy, is deeply distressed at his departure. She recalls in old age her unsettled early life. In the hell of the trenches, John undergoes shattering experiences beyond his imagining: these include crucial encounters with the wounded poet and composer Ivor Gurney, whose brilliant, unstable isolation is to find a profound echo in John's future. While Dorothy grows to a troubled womanhood, the separation and trauma of the times act on the Hemingby family with results that mirror the tragic breaking of two generations in the war and its aftermath. Shocking events and images will linger in your mind long after the last page of this haunting and tragic story.

For further information about Ivor Gurney, his poetry and his music see www.ivorgurney.org.uk and for his friend, Will Harvey, www.fwharveysociety.co.uk
For further information about zeppelin raids and the first house hit in an air raid see http://londonist.com/2012/09/the-hackney-house-that-ended-a-millennium-of-peace.php

“A compelling and moving novel of a family caught up in, and partly destroyed by, the First World War and its aftermath. Impeccably researched and sensitively written - and you will not forget it.”
Jude Morgan – author of Passion, A Taste of Sorrow and The Secret Life of William Shakespeare

Readers’ Comments:
I couldn’t put it down. You created that fantastic thing which keeps readers glued – anticipation. I cried at the end because of the wonderful storyline, characterisation , sentiment, description – I could go on...
MM – Boston

A triumph. I thought I was reading a script for a film it is so vivid. It isn’t anything I will forget very easily. BC – Stamford

A message from the author:
There is another dimension to this story – the music. I actually wrote parts of the story while some of the pieces were playing. I wish there was an accompanying CD to this novel so that you too could experience the same effects. But all the pieces mentioned, including Gurney’s songs and other music, are available on-line for you to explore.

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