Book #29

The Haven by Amanda Jennings

Tara and Kit leave everything behind to join a group living in a tumbledown farm. For Kit, it’s a chance to break away from his wealthy family and the soulless upbringing he loathes so much; for Tara, the chance to give their young daughter Skye everything she never had – a childhood full of nature and freedom. Breathtakingly beautiful and remote, Winterfall Farm provides them all with an idyllic home, a new family and the opportunity to work and live off the land. At first, it seems too good to be true.

But as the seasons change, the behaviour of Winterfall’s charismatic leader, Jeremy, becomes increasingly erratic. Rules and discipline are imposed. The outside world seems increasingly further away, and as new faces arrive at the farm, tensions rise with devastating consequences.

I am sure the thought of living off-grid and shunning capitalism is appealing to some people; growing your own food, raising your own animals, building your own little utopia - it will sound idyllic to certain types. Not to me, of course, I am far too reliant on my small comforts.

Jennings shows us how this can work, as she brings together a group of like-minded people and throws them into a dilapidated farm together. They build, they grow, they nourish their relationships, and they try to make their self-created world succeed.

But we soon see that the only real pitfalls within such a peaceful community are the people. Naturally falling into their roles - cook, healer, carpenter, leader - we witness unrest, disquiet, and an ultimate power trip which unravels the farm’s entire purpose.

It’s an interesting study of people and our instinctual behaviour, how we relate and cohabit, how we express ourselves and carry on. Jennings built things up wonderfully, and in such an engaging way that I was enthralled with this new way of living, and how the inhabitants would cope. But things escalated at such a violent speed that the ending felt incredibly rushed, with a lack of satisfying build-up. I was surprised to find myself spiralling towards the end of the novel, with some things not making sense, or seeming oddly out of place.

Nevertheless, a good, engaging read, and something a bit different, taking us away from what we’re used to and focusing on how people adapt and change.